Process for Converting Waste Biomass

Tech ID: 18696 / UC Case 2008-516-0


A researcher at the University of California, Davis has developed a chemical approach for the total conversion of plant carbohydrates to biofuels and value-added products.

Full Description

A researcher at the University of California, Davis has developed a process for converting waste biomass (agricultural, municipal forestry) into 5-chlorofurfural (CMF) in yields approaching 90% of the theoretical. Thus far no other method of biomass deconstruction gives such a high conversion to a simple organic product. The process is completely chemical in nature and inexpensive. Conditions are mild (T< 100 °C) and reaction times are short (< 4 h). By reaction with ethanol or hydrogen, the CMF product is converted into 5-ethoxymethyl furfural and 5-methylfurfural, respectively, both of which are promising biofuel candidates, and the former of which is currently being commercialized in Europe as a diesel additive. By reaction with water, the CMF product is converted into levulinic acid, an industrially important value-added chemical. A secondary product of this process is furfural itself, which derives from the hemicellulose content of plant biomass. Furfural is currently traded as a commercial commodity.


  • High yield process for the development and manufacture of renewable alternative fuels


  • More efficient than conventional ethanol production
  • Direct utilization of cellulose, a prevalent and available source of carbon
  • Derived biofuels are hydrophobic, non-toxic, non-volatile, non-corrosive, clean-burning, and biodegradable
  • Method can be used to derive either biofuels or value added materials from biomass

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 7,829,732 11/09/2010 2008-516


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  • Mascal, Mark J.

Other Information


biofuels, sustainable chemistry, biomass conversion, carbohydrates, cellulose, furfural, furans

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