The process uses plant material based gamma valerolactone, or GVL. GVL is used to deconstruct plants and then create sugars. In fact, around 85 to 95 percent of the starting material can be converted to sugars through this process. Those sugars can be upgraded into biofuels, either chemically or biologically. Sugars are used to ferment yeast into ethanol. Alternately, the sugars can also be used to create drop-in biofuels through chemically upgraded furans (one of a group of colorless, volatile, heterocyclic organic compounds containing a ring of four carbon atoms and one oxygen atom).
According to the research, this process may reduce costs of ethanol production by 10 percent, compared to the costs of current methods.
Postdoctoral researcher and the research paper's lead author, Jeremy Luterbacher, thinks there are many possibilities that could come from this.