Homogenous and Reusable Superacid Polymer Catalyst for the Synthesis of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural from Glucose


Project ID:  D2018-18



Combinations of Brønsted and Lewis acid catalysts are generally used for the production of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) from glucose. However, reutilization of these catalysts is challenging due to their solubility in reaction medium. Heterogeneous catalysts containing both types of acid sites are not usually as active as their homogeneous counterparts due to all active sites not being fully exposed. There is, thus, a need for new and improved catalysts for HMF production.


Invention Description

Researchers at the University of Toledo, led by Dr. Ana Alba-Rubio, have developed a soluble and reusable polymer catalyst containing both Brønsted and Lewis acid sites by adding aluminum chloride to soluble poly-(styrenesulfonic acid) (PSSA) via ion exchange in liquid medium.



•       The technology allows for an efficient conversion of glucose to HMF, which is a very important biomass-derived platform chemical useful for the fine chemical industry


•       This the first reported homogeneous and reusable superacid catalyst. These properties allow for two different simultaneous reactions

•       The catalyst enables improved activity and reusability

•       Deactivation via coking may be prevented when using this catalyst since there is no surface for the deposition of carbonaceous species

•       The catalyst may prevent toxicity and corrosion


IP Status: Patent pending, WO 2019/089448


Publications:  Granados ML et al., Poly(styrenesulphonic) acid: an active and reusable acid catalyst soluble in polar solvents. Green Chemistry, 2011, 3203-3212


              Alonso-Fagúndez N et al., Poly-(styrene sulphonic acid): An acid catalyst from polystyrene waste for reactions of interest in biomass valorization. Catalysis Today, 2014, 285-294


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Katherine Pollard
Licensing Associate
The University of Toledo
Ana Alba Rubio
Maria Coleman
Subhash Kalidindi
Anup Joshi