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High Yield Method to Produce LGO from Biomass

Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

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Technology Marketing Summary

Levoglucosenone (LGO) is a highly dehydrated sugar typically derived from cellulose. It is an important, non-petroleum building block chemical with potential uses in a wide range of industrial processes. For example, it can be converted to 1,6-hexanediol to be utilized in the production of polyurethanes and polyesters.

Conventionally, LGO is derived from materials such as waste paper via high temperature pyrolysis. However, the process is hindered by low yield. Attempts to improve yield using expensive, toxic ionic liquids are undesirable.


UW–Madison researchers have developed a new method to produce LGO from cellulosic biomass under mild reaction conditions. The biomass material is reacted in a mixture comprising a polar aprotic solvent (e.g., tetrahydrofuran or THF) and an acid in the absence of water. The LGO can be separated out by routine downstream processes such as distillation and evaporation.

Glucose, levoglucosan, furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural also are produced in small quantities.



  • High yields
  • Low reaction temperature
  • Outperforms harsher methods
  • Easy to separate LGO from solvent and byproducts
Applications and Industries


  • Producing LGO from biomass
More Information

For More Information About the Inventors

  • Cao F., Schwartz T.J., McClelland D.J., Krishna S.H., Dumesic, J.A. and Huber G. W. 2015. Dehydration of Cellulose to Levoglucosenone Using Polar Aprotic Solvents. Energy Environ. Sci. 8, 1808-1815.


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To: Jennifer Gottwald<>