The group of WANG Feng at CAS Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics have established a method to convert biomass-derived polyols and sugars into methanol and syngas (CO+H2) via UV light irradiation at room temperature. The bio-syngas could be further used for the synthesis of methanol. Cellulose and even raw wood sawdust could be converted into methanol or syngas after hydrogenolysis or hydrolysis pretreatment. 

The researchers also found that Cu dispersed on titanium oxide nanorods (TNR) rich in defects effectively promoted selective C-C bond cleavage that produced methanol. Using this process, methanol was obtained from glycerol with co-production of H2. A syngas with CO selectivity up to 90% in the gas phase was obtained by controlling the energy band structure of Cu/TNR.

CAS news release, February 2, 2020