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Producing Beneficial Materials from Biomass and Biodiesel Byproducts

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryResearchers at Berkeley Lab have created a process to produce olefins from polyols that may be biomass derived. The team is also 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.DescriptionThe Berkeley Lab technology for producing olefins from polyols generates low cost chemical compounds 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.

The invention also includes a method of producing high purity ally alcohol, the starting material for a variety of polymers, pharmaceuticals and pesticides, using glycerol, a renewable biological source that can be recycled. Additionally, the method does not cause charring or yield undesirable byproducts.
  • 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
Applications and Industries
  • Producing chemicals and plastics from biomass
  • Synthesizing allyl alcohol from glycerol
  • Synthesizing 1,4-dihydrofuran from erythritol
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,273,926
Method of converting a polyol to an olefin
A method of preparing an olefin comprising: reacting a polyol in the presence of a carboxylic acid, such that an olefin is produced by the deoxygenation of the polyol. The reacting step can comprise (a) providing a composition comprising the polyol, (b) heating the composition, and (c) introducing the carboxylic acid to the composition wherein the introducing step occurs prior to, at the same time as, or subsequent to the heating step. In one embodiment, the polyol is glycerol, the carboxylic acid is formic acid, and the olefin is allyl alcohol, which is produced at a yield of about 80% or greater.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 09/25/2012
Technology Status
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To: Shanshan Li<>