Skip to Content
Find More Like This
Return to Search

Concentrated C5 and C6 Sugars from Biomass

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

Contact GLBRC About This Technology

Technology Marketing Summary

Widespread production of sustainable fuels and chemicals will require cost-effective methods for breaking down biomass into its constituent sugars. Attaining high yields of concentrated C5 and C6 carbohydrates (e.g., xylose and glucose) is particularly challenging. Many processes have been tested but all have drawbacks such as very high temperatures or expensive acids and enzymes.

Clearly needed is a process for extracting both types of sugar under more practical reaction conditions.


UW–Madison researchers have developed a process for producing C5 and C6 sugars from biomass at high yields (70 to 90 percent) in a solvent mixture of water, dilute acid and GVL (gamma-valerolactone). GVL is attractive because it is effective and derived from biomass.

The biomass and solvent system may be reacted at a temperature between 50 and 250oC for less than 24 hours.

The method yields liquid and solid fractions enriched in C5 and C6 sugar, respectively. The fractions are easily separated for post-treatment upgrading. This strategy is well-suited for catalytic upgrading to furans or fermentative upgrading to ethanol at near-theoretical yield.

  • High yield
  • High concentration
  • Milder reaction conditions (i.e., low acid and temperatures)
  • Cleaner C6 sugars because GVL dissolves lignin
  • No purification of the C5 sugar is needed because it can be upgraded to furfural in the presence of GVL.
  • Cost-effective process
Applications and Industries

Deriving C5 and C6 sugars, furfural, levulinic acid, GVL and other chemicals from biomass

More Information

WARF reference number P110124US01 describes a catalytic process for biomass into furan derivatives like levulinic acid and GVL.
WARF reference number P1000099US01 describes a method for producing GVL and olefins from levulinic acid.

Technology Status
Development StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated

Contact GLBRC About This Technology

To: Zachary Ellis<>