Seminar: "Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Fuels & Chemicals"

Apr 7
11 a.m.
Brauer Hall, Room 12

​James A. Dumesic, Chairman Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin, will present.

ABSTRACT: Lignocellulosic biomass is an important renewable source of carbon for the sustainable production of fuels, chemicals, and materials. Presented here is our recent work on catalytic processing of biomass, with an emphasis on the synthesis of new catalytic materials and the elucidation of solvent effects for these processes. Specifically, a,wdiols were produced from biomassderived reactants with bimetallic catalysts (e.g, RhRe, RhMo, PtMo) . The active sites on these bimetallic catalysts are bi-functional in nature, where the more reducible metal (Rh, Pt) catalyzes hydrogenation/dehydrogenation processes, and the more oxophilic metal (Re, Mo) provides sites that facilitate acid-catalyzed reactions. These bimetallic catalysts were synthesized with controlled compositions by the deposition of organometallic compounds onto the surfaces of metal nanoparticles. The effects of polar aprotic organic solvents on reaction rates and selectivities of acid catalyzed reactions of relevance for biomass conversion (e.g., xylose and fructose dehydration to furfural and hydroxymethylfurfural, respectively) were quantified by reaction kinetics studies. The aprotic organic solvent affects the stabilization of the acidic proton relative to the protonated transition states, leading to accelerated reaction rates for these acid-catalyzed biomass conversion reactions. This solvent effect was employed to develop a biomass processing approach that uses gamma-valerolactone (GVL) as a solvent to fractionate biomass to produce soluble carbohydrates from corn stover, hardwood and softwood at high yields (80- 90%). These carbohydrates can then be recovered and concentrated (up to 150 g/L) in an aqueous phase or converted to produce furandicarboxylic acid.

Organizer: For more information contact Kara Dix at