Today we are experiencing a renaissance in the chemistry of polysaccharide materials. This is due in part to recognition of the importance of renewable-based materials in a society in which petroleum has become a much more expensive feedstock, with a cloudy future with respect to adequacy of supply. There are currently intense, global efforts to develop a biomass-based refinery process, intended to produce biofuel (ethanol or butanol being the top candidates) that
will replace some or all of the petroleum-based fuel we now use. In parallel, scientists and non-scientists have become aware of the opportunities that this biofuel industry will create for biomass-based products. The utilization of waste from the biofuel process, along with the exploitation of the
collection system for biomass that will serve the biofuel production process, to make other products from biomass, will create an unprecedented and revolutionary opportunity for the creation of integrated biorefineries. These biorefineries will have substantial resemblance to current petroleum refineries, in that they will convert a natural product (or more properly, products) into fuel by chemical transformations and separation processes, and simultaneously use co-products and main products as
feedstocks for the production of more complex chemicals.
In order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by a biorefinery-based economy, it is crucial that we develop new synthetic methods for polysaccharide derivatives, and new understanding of the structure-property-performance relationships of these versatile molecules. This symposium series book will describe new synthetic methods, novel polysaccharide derivatives, new applications of these derivatives in biomedicine and packaging applications, and numerous examples of the creation of
new insight into the design of polysaccharide materials for performance. The articles in this symposium series book are good examples of the advances in polysaccharide chemistry being made in the current renaissance that will help to move us towards a biorefinery future.