Designing heterogeneous catalysts for biorefining, Professor Karen Wilson, European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI), Aston University
Date: 28 October 2015 Time: 15:00 - 16:30
Catalytic technologies play a critical role in the economic development of both the chemicals industry and modern society, underpinning 90 % of chemical manufacturing processes and contributing to over 20% of all industrial products. Concerns over dwindling oil reserves, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel sources and associated climate change is driving the urgent need for clean, renewable energy supplies. Biomass derived from waste agricultural/forestry materials or non-food crops, offers the most easily implemented and low cost solution for transportation fuels, and the only non-petroleum route to organic molecules for the manufacture of bulk, fine and speciality chemicals necessary to secure the future needs of society. However, to facilitate such a transition requires innovations in catalyst and process design for the selective conversion of these hydrophilic, bulky feedstocks into fuels or high-value chemicals. In a post-petroleum era, catalysis will underpin bio-refinery technology, and researchers will need to rise to the challenge of synthesising chemical intermediates and advanced functional materials and fuels from such non-petroleum based feedstocks.
This presentation will discuss the challenges faced in catalytic biomass processing, and highlight recent successes in catalyst design which have been facilitated by advances in nanotechnology and careful tuning of catalyst formulation. Specific case studies will explore how the effects of pore architecture and acid strength can impact upon process efficiency in free fatty acid esterification in biodiesel synthesis and the dehydration of glucose to the important platform chemicals 5-HMF and levulinic acid.
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