Polyol Hydrogenolysis by in-situ Generated Hydrogen

Track Code: 

This invention is a process to convert a biomass side product, glycerol, into an industrial chemical. The process eliminates the previous step of externally adding hydrogen to create a more efficient product with a higher yield of product with lower deoxygenation.


Renewable resources that produce biomass can be converted to produce substances traditionally obtained from fossil fuels. Glycerol is a side-product of a current process of transesterification of vegetable oil, and this invention is a process for converting glycerol into a useful industrial chemical.


This process has potential for converting biomass derived polyols to industrial chemicals, including 1,2 propanediol, ethylene glycol, n-propanol, etc., from glycerol.

How it works: 

This process results in high conversion for glycerol (50.1%) and high selectivity to desired deoxygenated products (1, 2-propanediol when glycerol is used: 47.2%) without adding hydrogen from external source. This self-sustainable process utilizes part of the polyol to generate hydrogen due to the supported platinum catalyst, and the hydrogen is then used for hydrogenolysis of the remaining polyol by a supported ruthenium catalyst.


The key limitations in most of the current methods are the use of externally added hydrogen at high pressures and low selectivity to the desired liquid phase oxygenated products. This process does not require hydrogen to be added, resulting in: improved process economics and safety because the process can be operated at lower pressure; improved performance with respect to yield and polyol utilization; and improved product selectivity.

Why it is better: 

This process does not require hydrogen to be added externally because it produces hydrogen within the reaction.

Other Applications: 

The energy sector as well as the materials sector will benefit from this technology as catalysts to utilize organic starting materials is universally desired.

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · m.patterson@ku.edu · 785-864-6397
Bala Subramaniam
Debdut Roy
Raghunath Chaudhari
US 8,415,511