Polyols provide an alternative "sugar platform" for biomass conversion to hydrocarbon fuels, alcohols, chemicals and hydrogen. Polyols are obtained directly from biomass by an "intercepted dilute acid hydrolysis and hydrogenation" (IDAHH), wherein the incipient unstable aldoses are intercepted by catalytic hydrogenation to produce a solution of stable polyols with no detectable phenols. Granular catalyst is retained by a screen and insoluble lignin is simply filtered from the product slurry. Complete conversions are obtained for several biomass types within 3-6 hr at -185 °C with 0.8% H 3PO 4. Minimum cost for polyols ranges from $0.12-0.16/lb.