Ultra-High Yield Para-Xylene from Biomass-Derived 2,5-Dimethylfuran

Using ethylene with DMF (from fructose) may provide a more economical method of para-xylene production

P-Xylene from Biomass Feedstocks

A new series of phosphorous-containing solid catalysts produces ultra-high yields of p-xylene by suppressing competing side reactions. Among them, phosphorous-containing BEA zeolite (P-BEA) with 12 membered-ring (12 MR) structures and phosphorous-containing self-pillared pentasil (P-SPP) zeolite nanosheets with 10 MR exhibit exceptional activities up to 97% yield of p-xylene at 99% conversion of DMF.

The Diels–Alder cycloaddition of 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) and ethylene and the subsequent dehydration of the cycloadduct intermediate is an attractive reaction pathway to produce renewable p-xylene from biomass feedstocks. Passing the Diels-Alder cycloaddition product of ethylene and DMF over this catalyst technology, a conversion rate of 97% can be achieved. The renewable p-xylene produced is an important precursor for production of PET and other related plastic materials.

Higher Yields at Potentially Lower Costs

Recent advances using Diels-Alder reactions for producing renewable aromatics (including p-xylene, toluene, benzene and other aromatic derivatives) could not exceed a 75% p-xylene yield. The phosphorous-containing solid catalysts in this technology produced p-xylene yields of up to 97%. Using ethylene (the most highly produced petrochemical) with DMF (which can be derived from fructose) may provide a more economical method of para-xylene production. Furthermore, P-containing zeolite Beta is an active, stable and selective catalyst for this reaction. It can catalyze the dehydration reaction selectively without producing alkylated and oligomerized products, unlike Al-containing zeolites and other solid phosphoric acid catalysts. This unique aspect establishes a commercially attractive process for renewable p-xylene production.


  • Cost effective phosphorous-containing solid catalysts
  • Ultra-high yield production of p-xylene
  • No competing side reactions
  • Renewable p-xylene


  • Precursor for terephthalic acid used in the production of PET and other related plastic materials
  • Beverage bottles, automotive, fibers for clothing and carpeting

Phase of Development – Prototype


University of Minnesota, press release, 2017-05.


University of Minnesota


Renewable Carbon News – Daily Newsletter

Subscribe to our daily email newsletter – the world's leading newsletter on renewable materials and chemicals