Xuejun Pan

Position title: Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Douglas D. Sorenson Professor

Email: xpan@wisc.edu

Phone: (608) 262-4951

229 Agricultural Engineering Building
460 Henry Mall
Madison, WI 53706

Lab Office
645 Enzyme Institute Building
1710 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53726

Xuejun Pan Headshot

Lab website: http://biorefining.bse.wisc.edu/

Program Affiliations

  • Biological Systems Engineering

Education and Certificates

  • Ph.D. – Applied Bioscience, Hokkaido University, Japan, 1999
  • Ph.D. – Chemical Engineering, Tianjin University of Science and Technology, China, 1993

Fields of Interest

  • Pretreatment and fractionation of lignocellulosic biomass
  • Enzymatic and chemical saccharification of lignocellulose to produce sugars
  • Chemical and biological conversion of lignocellulose to liquid fuels
  • Platform chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass
  • Functionalized materials from cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin
  • Fundamental understanding of physical and chemical changes of plant cell wall components (cellulose, lignin, and hemicelluloses) during biorefining


  • BSE364: Engineering Properties of Food and Biological Materials
  • BSE460: Biorefining – Energy and Products from Renewable Resources


Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=3XUVmn8AAAAJ&hl=en


  • X.J. Pan and N. Li. Methods of producing oligosaccharides for use as prebiotics. US 10,711,022B2.
  • L. Shuai and X.J. Pan. Method for producing liquid hydrocarbon fuels directly from lignocellulosic biomass. US 9,487,712B2.
  • X.J. Pan and L. Shuai. Saccharification of Lignocellulosic Biomass. US 9,187,790B2.
  • G.S. Wang, X.J. Pan, J.Y. Zhu and R. Gleisner. Sulfite pretreatment for biorefining biomass. US 9,090,915B2.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • J.Y. Zhu and X.J. Pan. Efficient sugar production from plant biomass: current status, challenges, and future directions. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2022, 164, 112583. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2022.112583
  •  Z.H. Li, C.J. Chen, H. Xie, Y. Yao, X. Zhang, A. Brozena, J.G. Li, Y. Ding, X.P. Zhao, M. Hong, H.Y. Qiao, L.M. Smith, X.J. Pan, R> Briber, S.Q. Shi, L.B. Hu. Sustainable high-strength macrofibers extracted from natural bamboo. Nature Sustainability, 2022, 5, 235-244. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00831-2
  • X.H. Yang, Z. Li, L. Li, N. Li, F. Jing, L.H. Hu, Q.Q. Shang, X. Zhang, Y.H. Zhou, and X.J. Pan. Depolymerization and Demethylation of Kraft Lignin in Molten Salt Hydrate and Applications as Antioxidant and Metal Ion Scavenger. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2021, 69, 13568-13577. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.1c05759 (Cover featured article)
  • Q.Q. Xia, C.J. Chen, Y.G. Yao, J.G. Li, S.M. He, Y.B. Zhou, T. Li, X.J. Pan, Y. Yao, L.B. Hu. A strong, biodegradable and recyclable lignocellulosic bioplastic. Nature Sustainability, 2021, 4, 627-635. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-021-00702-w
  • S.-C. Yang, Y. Liao, K.G. Karthikeyan, and X.J. Pan. Mesoporous cellulose-chitosan composite hydrogel fabricated via co-dissolution-regeneration process as biosorbent of heavy metals. Environmental Pollution, 2021, 286, 117324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2021.117324
  • Y. Liao and X.J. Pan. Self-indicating and high-capacity mesoporous biosorbent fabricated from cellulose and chitosan via co-dissolution and regeneration for removing formaldehyde from indoor air, Environmental Sciences: Nano, 2021, 8, 1283–1295. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1EN00122A
  • N. Li, H.Y. Bian, J.Y. Zhu, P.N. Ciesielski, X.J. Pan. Tailorable cellulose II nanocrystals (CNC II) prepared in mildly acidic lithium bromide trihydrate (MALBTH). Green Chemistry, 2021, 23, 2778-2791. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1GC00145K
  • Q. Yang and X.J. Pan. Introducing hydroxyl groups as cellulose-binding sites into polymeric solid acids to improve their catalytic performance in hydrolyzing cellulose, Carbohydrate Polymers, 2021, 261, 117895. h​t​t​p​s​:​/​/​d​o​i​.​o​r​g​/​1​0​.​1​0​1​6​/​j​.​c​a​r​b​p​o​l​.​2​0​2​1​.​1​1​7​8​9​5
  • M.J. Zeng and X.J. Pan. Insights into solid acid catalysts for efficient cellulose hydrolysis to glucose: progress, challenges, and future opportunities. Catalysis Reviews-Science and Engineering, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1080/01614940.2020.1819936
  • Z. Li, E. Sutandar, T. Goihl, X. Zhang, and X.J. Pan. Cleavage of ethers and demethylation of lignin in acidic concentrated lithium bromide (ACLB) solution. Green Chemistry, 2020, 22, 7989-8001. https://doi.org/10.1039/D0GC02581J
  • T. Wu, N. Li, X.J. Pan, and S.-L. Chen. Homogenous hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose in an inorganic ionic liquid catalyzed by zeolites. Cellulose, 2020, 27, 9201-9215. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10570-020-03411-3
  • L. Zhang, Y. Liao, Y.-C. Wang, S. Zhang, W.Q. Yang, X.J. Pan, and Z.L. Wang. Cellulose II aerogels based triboelectric nanogenerator. Advanced Functional Materials, 2020, 30 (28), 2001763. https://doi.org/10.1002/adfm.202001763.
  • Y. Liao, Z.Q. Pang, and X.J. Pan. Fabrication and mechanistic study of aerogels directly from whole biomass. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2019, 7, 17723-17736. https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b04032
  • N. Li, Z.N. Wang, T.J. Qu, J. Kraft, J.-H. Oh, J.P. van Pijkeren, G.W. Huber, and X.J. Pan. High-yield synthesis of glucooligosaccharides (GlOS) from glucose via non-enzymatic glycosylation as potential prebiotics. Green Chemistry, 2019, 21, 2686-2698. https://doi.org/10.1039/C9GC00663J
  • L.H. Gan and X.J. Pan. Phenol-enhanced depolymerization and activation of kraft lignin in alkaline medium. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 2019, 58, 7794-7800. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.iecr.9b01147
  • Z.N. Wang, N. Li, and X.J. Pan. Transformation of Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX) Corn Stover Lignin into Microbial Lipids by Rhodococcus opacus. Fuel, 2019, 240, 119-125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2018.11.081
  • N. Li, Y.D. Li, C.G. Yoo, X.H. Yang, X.L. Lin, J. Ralph, X.J. Pan, 2018. An uncondensed lignin depolymerized in the solid state and isolated from lignocellulosic biomass: a mechanistic study. Green Chemistry, 20, 4224-4235. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8GC00953H (Cover featured article)
  • Z.Q. Li and X.J. Pan, 2018. Strategies to modify physicochemical properties of hemicelluloses from biorefinery and paper industry for packaging material. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology, 17, 47-69. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11157-018-9460-7
  • G.J. Lyu, C.G. Yoo, and X.J. Pan, 2018. Alkaline oxidative cracking for effective depolymerization of biorefining lignin to mono-aromatic compounds and organic acids with molecular oxygen. Biomass and Bioenergy, 108, 7-14.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biombioe.2017.10.046
  • Chen,  L.H., J.Z. Dou, Q.L. Ma, N. Li, R.C. Wu, H.Y. Bian, D.J. Yelle, T. Vuorinen, S.Y. Fu, X.J. Pan, J.Y. Zhu. Rapid and near-complete dissolution of wood lignin at ≤ 80°C by a recyclable acid hydrotrope. Science Advances. 2017, 3, e1701735.
  • Yoo, C.G., N. Li, M. Swannell, and X.J. Pan. Isomerization of Glucose to Fructose catalyzed by Lithium Bromide in Water. Green Chemistry, 2017, 19, 4402-4411
  • Zhang, H.D., N. Li, X.J. Pan, S.B. Wu, and J. Xie. Direct transformation of cellulose to gluconic acid in concentrated iron (III) chloride under mild conditions. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. 2017, 5 (5), 4066-4072
  • Yoo, C.G., S.T. Zhang, and X.J. Pan. Effective conversion of biomass into bromomethylfurfural, furfural, and depolymerized lignin in lithium bromide molten salt hydrate of a biphasic system. RSC Advances. 2017, 7, 300-308.
  • Yang, X.H., N. Li, X.L. Lin, X.J. Pan, and Y.H. Zhou.   Selective cleavage of the aryl ether bonds in lignin for depolymerization by acidic lithium bromide molten salt hydrate under mild conditions. Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, 2016, 44, 8379-8387.
  • Yang, Q. and X.J. Pan. Bifunctional porous polymers bearing boronic and sulfonic acids for hydrolysis of cellulose.   ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 2016, 4, 4824-4830.
  • Li, N., X.J. Pan, and J. Alexander.    A facile and fast method for quantitating lignin in lignocellulosic biomass using acidic lithium bromide trihydrate (ALBTH).  Green Chemistry, 2016, 18, 5367-5376.
  • Yang, Q. and X.J. Pan. Synthesis and application of bifunctional porous polymers bearing chloride and sulfonic acid as cellulase-mimetic solid acids for cellulose hydrolysis. BioEnergy Research, 2016, 9, 578-586.
  • Yang, Q. and X.J. Pan. Correlation between lignin physicochemical properties and inhibition to enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2016, 113, 1213–1224.
  • Zhang, H.D., N. Li, X.J. Pan, S.B. Wu, and J. Xie. Oxidative conversion of glucose to gluconic acid by iron (III) chloride in water under mild conditions. Green Chemistry, 2016, 18, 2308-2312.
  • Yoo, C.G., H. Kim, F.C. Lu, A. Azarpira, X.J. Pan, K.K. Oh, J.S. Kim, J. Ralph, and T.H. Kim. Understanding the physicochemical characteristics and the improved enzymatic saccharification of corn stover pretreated with aqueous and gaseous ammonia. BioEnergy Research, 2016, 9 (1), 67-76.
  • Harde, S., Z.N. Wang, M. Horne, J.Y. Zhu, and X.J. Pan. Microbial lipid production from SPORL-pretreated Douglas fir by Mortierella isabellina. Fuel, 2016, 175, 64-74.
  • Pang, Z.Q., C.H. Dong, and X.J. Pan. Enhanced deconstruction and dissolution of lignocellulosic biomass in ionic liquid at higher water content by lithium chloride. Cellulose, 2016, 23, 323-338.
  • Zeng, J.J., C.G. Yoo, F. Wang, X.J. Pan, W. Vermerris, and Z.H. Tong. Biomimetic Fenton-catalyzed lignin depolymerization to high value aromatics and dicarboxylic acids. ChemSusChem, 2015, 8, 861-871.
  • Li, Z.Q., Z.H. Jiang, B.H. Fei, Z.Y. Cai, X.J. Pan. Comparison of bamboo green, timber and yellow in sulfite (SPORL), sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide pretreatments for enzymatic saccharification. Bioresource Technology, 2014, 151, 91-99.
  • Lundberg, B., X.J. Pan, A. White, H. Chau, and A. Hotchkiss. Rheology and composition of processed citrus fiber Journal of Food Engineering. Journal of Food Engineering, 2014, 125, 97-104.
  • Pan, X.J. and J.N. Saddler. Effect of replacing polyol by organosolv and kraft lignin on the property and structure of rigid polyurethane foam. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 2013, 6, 12.
  • Shuai, L. and X.J. Pan. Hydrolysis of cellulose by cellulase-mimetic solid catalyst. Energy & Environmental Science, 2012, 5, 6889-6894.
  • Elumalai, S., Y. Tobimatsu, J.H. Grabber, X.J. Pan, and J. Ralph. Epigallocatechin Gallate Incorporation into Lignin Enhances the Alkaline Delignification and Enzymatic Saccharification of Cell Walls.  Biotechnology for Biofuels, 2012, 5, 59.
  • Tobimatsu, Y., S. Elumalai, J.H. Grabber, C.L. Davidson, X.J. Pan and J. Ralph. Hydroxycinnamate conjugates as potential monolignol replacements: in vitro lignification and cell wall studies with rosmarinic acid. ChemSusChem, 2012, 5, 676-686.
  • Yang, Q., X.J. Pan, F. Huang and K.C. Li. Functionalization of cellulose fiber with hyperbranched poly(3-methyl-3-oxetanemethanol) and poly(ε-caprolactone). Cellulose, 2011, 18, 1611-1621.
  • Zhu, J.Y. and X.J. Pan. Woody biomass pretreatment for cellulosic ethanol production: technology and energy consumption evaluation. Bioresource Technology, 2010, 101, 4992-5002.
  • Yang, Q., X.J. Pan, F. Huang, and K.C. Li. Fabrication of high-concentration and stable aqueous suspensions of graphene nanosheets by noncovalent functionalization with natural polymers. Journal of Physical Chemistry-Part C, 2010, 114, 3811-3816.
  • Shuai, L., Q. Yang, J.Y. Zhu, F.C. Lu, P.J. Weimer, J. Ralph and X.J. Pan. Comparative study of SPORL and dilute acid pretreatments of spruce for cellulosic ethanol production. Bioresource Technology, 2010, 101, 3106-3114.
  • Harmita, H., K.G. Karthikeyan and X.J. Pan. Copper and cadmium ions sorption onto kraft and organosolv lignins. Bioresource Technology, 2009, 100, 6183-6191.
  • Zhu, J.Y., X.J. Pan, G.S. Wang and R. Gleisner. Sulfite pretreatment (SPORL) for robust enzymatic saccharification of spruce and red pine. Bioresource Technology, 2009, 100, 2411-2418.
  • Yang, L. Shuai and X.J. Pan. Synthesis of fluorescent chitosan and its application in noncovalent functionalization of carbon nanotubes. Biomacromolecules, 2008, 9, 3422-3426.
  • Yang, Q., L. Shuai, J.J. Zhou, F.C. Lu and X.J. Pan. Functionalization of multiwalled carbon nanotubes by pyrene-labeled hydroxypropyl cellulose. Journal of Physical Chemistry, Part B, 2008, 112, 12934-12939.
  • Pan, X.J., K. Ehara, J. Kadla, N. Gilkes and J. Saddler. Organosolv ethanol lignin from poplar as radical scavenger: relationship between lignin structure, extracting condition and antioxidant activity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2006, 54, 5806-5813.
  • Pan, X.J., N. Gilkes and J. Saddler. Effect of acetyl groups on enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic substrates. Holzforschung, 2006, 60, 398-401.
  • Pan, X.J., N. Gilkes, J. Kadla, K. Pye, S. Saka, K. Ehara, D. Gregg, D. Xie, D. Lam and J. Saddler. Bioconversion of hybrid poplar to ethanol and co-products using an organosolv fractionation Process: Optimization of process yields. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2006, 94, 851-861.
  • Pan, X.J., C. Arato, N. Gilkes, D. J. Gregg, W. Mabee, E. K. Pye, Z. Xiao, X. Zhang and J. N. Saddler. Biorefining of softwoods using ethanol organosolv pulping – preliminary evaluation of process streams for manufacture of fuel-grade ethanol and co-products. Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 2005, 90 (4), 473-481.
  • Pan, X.J., D. Xie, N. Gilkes, D.J. Gregg and J.N. Saddler. Strategies to enhance the enzymatic hydrolysis of pretreated softwood with high residual lignin content. Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, 2005, 121-124, 1069-1079.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor (2021 – present)
  • Doulas D. Sorenson Professor (2021 – 2026)
  • Andrew Chase Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE, 2021)
  • Vilas Faculty Mid-Career Investigator Award (2018)
  • Excellence in International Activities Award, College of Agricultural and Life Science, UW-Madison (2015)
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, Division of International Studies and International Student Services, UW-Madison (2014)
  • Fellow, International Academy of Wood Science (2013)
  • Alfred Toepfer Faculty Fellow Award (2011)
  • NSF Career Award (2009)