Image description: Electron microscopic image from the new catalyst that is based on the metals Ruthenium and Palladium, shown as gray/white sphere. On the right an enlargement of the catalyst; the pink globules represent Ruthenium and the blue globules represent Palladium. The molecule levulinic acid (left) is processed into γ-valerolactone (right).
Nature Communication article on Catalytic Biomass Conversion
The group of Bert Weckhuysen and Pieter Bruijnincx has managed, together with colleagues in UK and in the US, to speed up the processing of biomass into a variety of valuable renewable products such as plastics and fuels. The key is a newly developed reusable catalyst: a compound that both supports and controls the reaction.
This results in a greater yield of valuable chemical building blocks from biomass but also in fewer by-products and less waste. The researchers have already applied for a patent for their invention. The research was carried out as part of the public-private partnership CatchBio, which conducts research on clean ways of processing non-edible biomass. The results will appear this week in the scientific journal Nature Communications.