Biomass-derived polyols valorization towards glycolic acid production with high atom-economy

Jianmei Li, Ruofeng Yang, Shuguang Xu, Cuiqing Zhou, Yuan Xiao, Changwei Hu, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Taking advantage of the inherent structure in biomass for attractive chemical synthesis with high atom economy is vital for a sustainable future but remains a great challenge. Herein, we discovered a new route for glycolic acid (GcA) synthesis using various biomass-derived polyols as feedstock with an exceptionally high atom utilization (∼93 %). Up to ~90 C-mol% yield of GcA could be achieved, representing the highest value among the state-of-the-art biomass valorization strategies. Strongly certified by in situ experimental tests and multi-scale theoretical calculations, it was identified that dynamical accommodation of the flexible unsaturated dangling-like Cucus-O bond in Cu2O(111) to polyols drove electron transfer from polyols to Cucus, enabling the precise activation of C1-H and C2-C3 bonds. These contributions accomplished the complex cascade reactions in polyol transformation throughout chain-sugar as intermediate with notable conformation superiority, thus generating GcA selectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121785
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2022


  • Biomass valorization
  • Carbon-efficient biorefinery
  • Glycolic acid
  • Oxidative dehydrogenation
  • Sustainable waste management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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