The transition from a petroleum-based infrastructure to an industry which utilises renewable resources is one of the key research challenges of the coming years. Biomass, consisting of inedible plant material that does not compete with our food production, is a suitable renewable feedstock. In recent years, much research has been focused on developing new chemical strategies for the valorisation of different biomass components. In addition to the many heterogeneous and enzymatic approaches, homogenous catalysis has emerged as an important tool for the highly selective transformation of biomass, or biomass derived platform chemicals. This Perspective provides an overview of the most important recent developments in homogeneous catalysis towards the production and transformation of biomass and biomass related model compounds. The chemical valorisation of the main components of lignocellulosic biomass – lignin and (hemi)cellulose is reviewed. In addition, important new catalyst systems for the conversion of triglycerides and fatty acids are presented.
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