Wisconsin researchers report 1,5-pentanediol breakthrough

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In Wisconsin, university researchers have developed a low-cost, renewable route 1,5-pentanediol. The alpha, omega-diol could be used in place of 1,4-butanediol and 1,6 hexanediol in polyester and polyurethanes production.

Kevin Barnett, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s department of energy and bioenergy technologies, says the current, petroleum-based route to 1,5-pentanediol is six times more expensive than the new process. Co-production of biofuels from biomass such as wood, would further lower costs. The process also uses less energy, because the final product concentration is up to ten times higher.

“We hope to be able to make larger quantities and volumes and be able to put it in the applications that are currently used for other molecules,” says Zachary Brentzel, a graduate research assistant in UW-Madison’s college of engineering. “If it’s not a direct substitute, we hope that we can actually find new applications where its properties are more beneficial.”

The work was published in a recent issue of ChemSusChem.