Surface interactions of biomass derived oxygenates with heterogeneous catalysts
Foo, Guo Shiou
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Energy demand is projected to increase by 56% before 2040 and this will lead to the fast depletion of fossil fuels. Currently, biomass is the only sustainable source of organic carbon and liquid fuels. One major method of converting biomass involves the utilization of heterogeneous catalysts. However, there is still a lack of understanding in the reaction mechanisms and surface interactions between biomass-derived oxygenates and catalysts. Specifically, three important reactions are investigated: i) dehydration of glycerol, ii) hydrolysis of cellulose and cellobiose, and iii) hydrodeoxygenation of bio-oil. Some important concepts are gathered and provide insight into the most attractive conversion strategies. These concepts include the role of Lewis and Brønsted acid sites, synergistic effect between defect sites and functional groups, the advantage of weak acid sites, steric effect imposed by aromatic substituents, and the evolution of surface species in catalyst deactivation. These studies show that a deep understanding of surface chemistry can help to elucidate elementary reaction steps, and there is great potential in using heterogeneous catalysts for the conversion of biomass into targeted fuels and chemicals.