About

Wood Refinery was founded in March, 2012, in NYC, based on the co-founders’ belief that “continuously fast hydrolysis of wood” process will be the technological key to economic utilization of abundant lignocellulosic biomass as viable feedstocks for production of ethanol, chemicals, sugar and plastics. Wood Refinery’s co-founders include a world renowned Professor of Chemical/Material/Agricultural Engineering and an experienced Inventor/Engineer.

Wood Refinery’s vision is to develop the world’s best industrial-scale technology platform to produce ethanol, chemicals and sugar from lignocellulosic biomass by continuously fast hydrolysis in a flow reactor with water at supercritical conditions.

Zhen Fang, co-founder of Wood Refinery, Professor in Bioenergy;
Inventor of Fast Hydrolysis Process (US patent: 8268126) ;

Editor-in-Chief, Springer Book Series – Biofuels and Biorefineries;

Associate Editor, Biotechnology for Biofuels (IF 5.5);

Associate Editor,  The Journal of Supercritical Fluids (IF 3.7);

Associate Editor, Journal of Renewable Materials (JRM)  (Q3) (06/2020-now);

Editorial Advisory Board Member, Biofpr (Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining) (IF 4.2, 2012-2018);

Editorial Board Member,  Energy and Policy Research (Taylor & Francis) (2016-2018);

Editorial Advisory Board Member, Energy, Sustainability and Society (Springer) (IF 1.9);

Editorial Board Member, Combinatorial Chemistry & High Throughput Screening   (IF 1.5)

Listed in “Most Cited Chinese Researchers” for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 2018 and 2019 in energy (Elsevier-Scopus).

Leader and Founder of Biomass Group

College of Engineering, Nanjing Agricultural University

40 Dianjiangtai Road, 210031 Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

email: zhfa2020AThotmail.com

URL: http://biomass-group.njau.edu.cn/; http://woodrefinery.com/zhenfang/

Fast hydrolysis process:

Briefly stated, Our inventions comprise method, equipment and applications for fast complete dissolution and hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass continuously.  The unique features of our inventions are simple, complete, continuous and fast dissolution and hydrolysis of actuallignocellulosic biomass (wood or grass). The advantages of Our invention offer a simple, fast and low-cost way of applying it on a large commercial scale because of the unique features of the invention.

Synthesis of Amides from Lignocelluloses:

A protocol is developed that shows in situ formed N-formyl quasi-catalytic species afford highly selective synthesis of formamides or amines with controllable levels from a variety of aldehyde- and ketone-derived platform chemical substrates (that can be easily produced via our patented “fast hydrolysis” process from lignocelluloses and subsequent catalytic conversions) under solvent-free conditions. Up to 99% yields of mono-substituted formamides are obtained in 3 min. The C-N bond formation and N-formyl species are prevalent in the cascade reaction sequence. Kinetic and isotope labeling experiments explicitly demonstrate that the C-N bond is activated for subsequent hydrogenation, in which formic acid acts as acid catalyst, hydrogen donor and as N-formyl species source that stabilize amine intermediates elucidated with density functional theory. The protocol provides access to imides from aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, and mixed-substrates, requires no special catalysts, solvents or techniques and provides new avenues for amination chemistry.(Patent: PCT/CN2019/098614, 2019; Nature Communications, 10, 699, 2019, Green Chem, https://doi.org/10.1039/C9GC03655E, 2020).

Professor Zhen Fang has 25 years experiences in bioenergy research at top universities and institutes around the world. In his previous work, Professor Fang found for the first time that cellulose could be completely dissolved in water at temperature above 320 oC and became a ‘cellulose solution’, which made it possible to build up a continuous flow reactor for the rapid hydrolysis of cellulose. However, the separating of pure cellulose from actual biomass (e.g., wood) is complicated and costly. It is difficult for the solubilization and hydrolysis of pure cellulose to be commercialized. Thus, we invented a ‘fast hydrolysis’ process of actual lignocellulosic biomass (wood) by adding 0.8 wt% Na2CO3, actual wood without pretreatment can be completely dissolved upon fast-heating (7~16°C/s) to form a ‘wood solution’ at 329-367 oC at short reaction times (0.7-2 s). The ‘wood solution’ can be rapidly (ca. 15 s) hydrolyzed to sugars/sugar oligomers under homogeneous conditions. The patent is the latest development in Professor Fang’s 23-year effort in the study of biomass hydrolysis process, aimed at a simple, fast and low-cost method for a novel biorefinery. The ‘fast hydrolysis’ process will be the technological key to economic utilization of abundant lignocellulosic biomass as viable feedstocks for the production of industrial sugar, ethanol and chemicals. Our pioneering work opens the door, for the first time, to the possibility of developing industrial-scale technology at competitive cost for producing biofuels and value-added products from lignocellulosic biomass based on the ‘fast hydrolysis’ process in a flow reactor.

We are seeking to sell or license the patent rights, or other forms of collaboration to commercialize it. If you are potentially interested in the U.S. patent #: 8268126. Please contact me anytime at Tel:646-543-5318, 86-871-5170024

NYC Office
Tel: 646-543-5318
Tel: 917-740-5318

CHINA Headquarters
地址:江苏南京浦口区点将台南京农业大学工学院生物能源组

邮编:210031

College of Engineering, Nanjing Agricultural University

40 Dianjiangtai Road, 210031 Nanjing, Jiangsu, China

Tel: 86-25-58606657; E-mail: 483709907@qq.com; zhfa2020Athotmail.com


Dr. Fang is a world-renowned expert in renewable energy and green technologies. He has made major contributions to the fields of biomass hydrolysis, biodiesel production, nanocatalysts for biofuel synthesis, hydrothermal process. He has trained many students and engineers in Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and China. He serves both as editor and editorial board member of major energy journals. As the founding Editor-in-Chief, Springer Book Series-Biofuels and Biorefineries, he is leading the Canadian editorial team to assist authors in publishing a series of biomass-related books that have made exceptional contributions to environmental sustainability and the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Fang invented a ‘fast hydrolysis’ process for wood (or lignocellulosic biomass) by adding Na2CO3 in water. Wood can be completely dissolved upon fast-heating (7~16 °C/s) to form a ‘wood solution’ at 329-367 °C at short reaction times (0.7-2 s). The ‘wood solution’ like liquid petroleum can be rapidly (ca. 15 s) hydrolyzed to sugars/sugar oligomers in a liquid phase for subsequent biofuel production (e.g., ethanol) in a flow system. The invention opens the door, for the first time, to the possibility of developing industrial-scale technology at competitive cost for producing biofuels from lignocelluloses based on the ‘fast hydrolysis’ process continuously.
  • Fang developed a green process for the production of biodiesel using magnetic solid catalysts instead of conventional liquid catalysts that are unrecoverable. The solid catalysts can be easily separated magnetically for recycles and successfully used for Jatropha biodiesel production. Microwave and ultrasound techniques were also introduced to promote biodiesel production. His group built up a patented pilot flow reactor (license transferred to a company) for continuous production of biodiesel with the solid catalysts (3-5 t/day). He won the Governor’s Friendship Award in 2012 in Yunnan for the contribution to the Jatropha biodiesel industry and bioenergy to help local minority Dai people alleviate poverty.
  • Fang also synthesized nanocatalysts to catalyze the high yield production of liquid biofuels and chemicals (e.g., methyl levulinate, γ-valerolactone, 2,5-dimethylfuran, methylfuran, formamides) at low temperatures directly from carbohydrates (e.g., sugars, cellulose). It is found that 95% 2,5-dimethylfuran yield was obtained from fructose at 110 °C, 99% 2,5-dimethylfuran yield from 5-hydroxymethylfurfural and 97% 2-methylfuran yield from furfural were even achieved at room temperature (25 °C) when polymethylhydrosiloxane was used as H-donor. Therefore, liquid biofuels (e.g., 2,5-dimethylfuran) can be produced from sugars via the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass that is easy for commercial applications in simple and inexpensive reactors. A way is developed for the highly selective synthesis of formamides or amines with controllable levels from a variety of aldehyde- and ketone-derived platform chemical substrates under solvent-free conditions. Up to 99% yields of mono-substituted formamides are obtained in 3 min.
  • Fang has 252 scientific papers, books and patents etc. output in the areas of energy, including 141 journal papers (most in Q1 groups), 20 books (19 in English with 350k chapter downloads, 12 by Springer), 15 book chapters, 30 papers in conference proceedings, and 23 Chinese & 3 US patents authorized. He gave 50 keynote & invited lectures in Canada and world-wide. He was listed in the “Most Cited Researchers” in China for consecutive 6 years (2014-2019) in energy by Elsevier-Scopus, and his book wins 2020 “Springer-Nature China New Development Awards” in recognition of his exceptional contributions to the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He obtained net funds of US$ 4.95 (6.4 CAD$) million in the last 13 years.
  • Fang has also trained many young researchers and students in the field (7 young faculty members, 4 postdoc, 21 PhD, 27 Master and 34 undergraduate students in the last 13 years) and won 2017 CAS Excellent Supervisor Award and 2020 Excellent Teacher Award of NJAU. Most of his graduate students have won the President Award of CAS (Chinese Academy of Sciences) or National Scholarships of China. He developed a new course “Biomass and Bioenergy” for undergraduate students and edited/authored 19 new English books as reference materials for students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *