Novel Method for Conversion of Cellulose to High-Value Materials
For Information, Contact:
Craig Forney
Commercialization Manager, Chemistry and Materials Sciences
Web Published:
Iowa State University researchers and their colleagues at the Iowa Energy Center have developed an improved method for converting cellulose and related materials to high-value products such as ethylene glycol and propylene glycol.

Development Stage:
Efficient conversion of cellulose to high-value chemicals such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, glucosides, and levoglucosan has been demonstrated under laboratory conditions, and ISU is seeking partners interested in commercializing this technology

Petroleum has long been the starting point for the production of many high-value chemicals such as ethylene glycol, but diminishing petroleum supplies and environmental concerns are driving research into ways to use renewable sources for making these types of compounds.  Biomass is abundant and renewable, but methods to hydrolyze cellulose and related carbohydrate materials for production of small molecules often require the use of harsh or expensive reagents such as strong acids or enzymes since cellulose is usually not soluble in conventional solvents and is also refractory to chemical or biological treatments.  Conventional acid hydrolysis methods have also suffered from the high cost of building corrosion resistant plants, acid recovery, and generation of chemical wastes.  To overcome these drawbacks, ISU researchers and their collaborators at the Iowa Energy Center have developed a novel method for the conversion of cellulose and related carbohydrate materials to high-value materials.  This method, which involves heating under pressure a mixture of cellulose and low-molecular-weight alcohol, does not require pretreatment of the starting material and can be used to produce ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and other low molecular weight materials without the use of expensive reagents, metal catalysts, hydrogen gas or enzymes.  In addition, this method produces alkyl glucosides and levoglucosan that can be converted into glucose for subsequent production of ethanol and other products.

• Effective (conversion of biomaterials to alcohol-soluble products is high)
• Simple (avoids the use of metal catalysts, hydrogen gas or enzymes)
• Environmentally friendly (does not produce toxic wastes)
• Robust (relatively insensitive to the presence of impurities)
Biobased production of high-value chemicals

Patent Information:
*To see the full version of the patent(s), follow the link below, then click on "Images" button.
Country Serial No. Patent No. Issued Date
United States 12/962,770 8,383,864* 2/26/2013
United States 13/593,755 8,686,192* 4/1/2014

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