Foundational techniques for catalyst design in the upgrading of biomass-derived multifunctional molecules

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The production of fuels and chemicals from renewable lignocellulosic biomass resources has been a major research focus in the last few decades. The most efficient method for synthesizing value-added chemical products from sustainable feedstocks is direct catalytic conversion, however, the multifunctional and highly oxygenated biomass-derived substrates are significantly different from petroleum-based feedstocks. Thus, systematic development of new catalytic materials is required to take advantage of the only substantial source of renewable carbon. In this review, we discuss the foundational methodologies that enable rational catalyst design through the investigation of surface-adsorbate interactions and the elucidation of descriptors for selectivity control. Molecular spectroscopies, efficient and predictive computational modeling, rigorous kinetic investigations, and highly controlled materials synthesis have generated fundamental insights leading to general catalyst design principles in biomass upgrading processes. The application of each technique in biomass research is discussed in the context of several case studies, with a focus on the unique insights available from each technique. Moreover, the interplay among multiple techniques, particularly between experimental and computational methods, is also highlighted. Despite the impressive progress made in the biomass field, major roadblocks still exist due to the complexity in the composition and structure of both substrates and catalysts. We share our perspectives regarding future needs in selective catalytic conversions of multifunctional substrates and methods for accelerating catalyst development.




Murphy, B. M., & Xu, B. (2018, July 1). Foundational techniques for catalyst design in the upgrading of biomass-derived multifunctional molecules. Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. Elsevier Ltd.

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