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Producing Beneficial Materials from Biomass and Biodiesel Byproducts



  • Produce chemicals and plastics from biomass
  • Synthesizing allyl alcohol from glycerol
  • Synthesizing 1,4-dihydrofuran from erythritol


  • Yields low cost materials in quantity and quality suitable for manufacturing
  • Some compounds created in one step without expensive reagents
  • Minimal waste products and undesirable byproducts
  • Potential for deoxygenation of additional biomass-derived polyols



Robert Bergman, Jonathan Ellman, and Elena Robello of Berkeley Lab have created a process to produce olefins from polyols that may be biomass derived. The resulting low cost chemical compounds are produced in a quality and quantity appropriate for industrial applications such as the manufacture of resins or the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. Biomass-derived olefins can also replace petrochemical-based monomers in the production of polymers and oligomers. This invention mitigates the high oxygen content in biomass-derived raw materials making them sustainable substitutes for the fossil-derived raw materials used to produce energy and chemical intermediates.

In addition, the Berkeley Lab researchers are the first to introduce a method of producing high purity allyl alcohol at a large scale by using glycerol as the starting material instead propylene, a petroleum feedstock. Glycerol is a renewable biological source that can be recycled. This method will enable production of commercial quantities of allyl alcohol, the starting material for a variety of polymers, pharmaceuticals and pesticides. In addition, the method doesn’t cause charring or yield undesirable byproducts.


STATUS: Published Patent Application #12/509,985 available at Available for licensing.







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