A research team used high-valent transition metal catalysts for an unconventional hydrogenation of carboxylic acid groups, common to biomass feedstocks. The high-valent catalysts showed good selectivity under mild conditions. The uncertain future of oil feedstocks and environmental pressure are forcing the chemical industry to adapt and find new renewable sources to sustain its activities. Carboxylic acids are one of the most common chemical groups in biomass, and their chemical reactions are particularly difficult to control in these mixtures. Recognizing the need for more selective transformations of carboxylic acid groups, a team at Nagoya University explored a different chemical approach to the catalysis of biomass.