Catalytic conversion of sawdust-based sugars into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, auditorium L5. Remote connection:

Topic of the dissertation

Catalytic conversion of sawdust-based sugars into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural

Doctoral candidate

Master of Science Annu Rusanen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Technology, Research Unit of Sustainable Chemistry

Subject of study



Professor Janne Jänis, University of Eastern Finland


Professor Ulla Lassi, University of Oulu

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Sawdust could replace fossil raw materials in chemical production

Sawdust can be used as a raw material in chemical production. This conclusion was reached in the PhD study that succeeded in producing two key chemicals (5-hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural) from the sugars contained in sawdust. These chemicals play a key role in the manufacture of many biomass-based products and are therefore an important link between biomass resources and biomass-derived products.

The forest industry generates large amounts of sawdust each year as a by-product, which is currently mainly burned for energy. In this doctoral thesis, a suitable approach for biorefineries was used to convert the hemicellulose fraction of the sawdust to key chemicals, while the cellulose fraction, used traditionally in pulp manufacture, was left as pristine as possible.

In the chemical production itself, attention was paid to the sustainability of manufacturing processes through new catalytic solutions developed at the work. In particular, solid activated carbon catalysts were found to significantly improve the selectivity of key chemical production reactions over conventionally used catalysts.

Overall, the dissertation increased knowledge about the utilization of sawdust and introduced greener alternatives to the traditional methods used in chemical production.
Last updated: 1.3.2023