WARF: P06037US

Converting Biomass-Derived Carbohydrates to High-Quality, Long-Chain Liquid Fuels


James Dumesic, George Huber, Juben Chheda, Christopher Barrett

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a practical and energy-efficient catalytic process for producing high-quality, long-chain liquid fuels from carbohydrates.
OVERVIEWAlkanes produced from carbohydrates could provide a renewable source of transportation fuel to complement the rapidly growing production of bio-diesel from vegetable oils and animal fats.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a practical and energy-efficient catalytic process for producing high-quality, long-chain liquid fuels from carbohydrates. The multi-stage process uses combinations of self- and crossed-aldol condensation reactions, dehydration reactions and hydrogenation reactions to yield alkane, alkene and ether products.

Preferably, this process starts with an acid-catalyzed dehydration of biomass-derived carbohydrates. Then an aqueous-phase aldol condensation reaction yields large organic compounds, which are converted into long-chain alkanes via dehydration and/or hydrogenation. The aldol condensation reaction takes place in the presence of a stable, recyclable and solid-base catalyst, which is comprised of magnesium, zirconium, oxygen and possibly palladium.
  • Biofuel production
  • Production of useful feedstocks for making organic chemicals
  • Alkanes can be used as sulfur-free fuel components
  • Aldol condensation reactions occur in the aqueous phase, enabling the generation of alkanes from renewable resources
  • Unlike the conversion of glucose to ethanol, this reaction does not require an energy-intensive distillation step—alkanes spontaneously separate from the aqueous solvent
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Catalyst maintains significant activity after recycling and is potentially useful in other aqueous-phase catalyzed reactions
  • Reactions are appropriate for many types of reactors, including batch, semi-batch and continuous flow reactors
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at or 608-960-9845.
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