The potential of microwave technology for the recovery, synthesis and manufacturing of chemicals from bio-wastes

Vitaliy L. Budarin*, Peter S. Shuttleworth, Mario De Bruyn, Thomas J. Farmer, Mark J. Gronnow, Lucie Pfaltzgraff, Duncan J. Macquarrie, James H. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Through a series of case studies it is demonstrated that microwave dielectric heating can be a powerful tool to recover and synthesize valuable molecules from a wide range of biomass types. In addition, under microwave irradiation the production of chemicals from biomass proceeds at markedly lower temperatures (up to 150 °C) compared to conventional heating. This has a secondary benefit in that molecules with a high degree of functionality are produced while conventional heating tends to produce a great proportion of lower value gases. Furthermore, the technical set-up of a microwave reactor can easily accommodate for an in-situ separation of acids and valuable products therewith improving the shelf life of the latter. The benefits of combining hydrothermal conditions with microwave irradiation are also illustrated. In addition, a specialized case of selective heating in a biphasic reaction system is discussed, allowing for improved yields and selectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-89
Number of pages10
JournalCatalysis Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Biomass
  • Chemicals
  • Energy
  • Hydrolysis
  • Microwaves
  • Pyrolysis

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