Isosorbide is a platform chemical of considerable importance for the future replacement of fossil resource-based products. Applications as monomers and building blocks for new polymers and functional materials, new organic solvents, for medical and pharmaceutical applications, and even as fuels or fuel additives are conceivable. The conversion of isosorbide to valuable derivatives by functionalization or substitution of the hydroxyl groups is difficult because of the different configurations of the 2- and 5-positions and the resulting different reactivity and steric hindrance of the two hydroxyl groups. Although a substantial amount of work has been published using exclusively the endo or exo derivatives isomannide and isoidide, respectively, as starting material, a considerable effort is still necessary to transfer and adapt these methods for the efficient conversion of isosorbide. This Minireview deals with all aspects of isosorbide chemistry, which includes its production by catalytic processes, special properties, and chemical transformations for its utilization in biogenic polymers and other applications of interest.
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