Upgrading biomass to useful chemicals and fuels remains an unsolved technological challenge. If it could be done with reasonable product yield, biomass could contribute substantially to sustainability goals allowing to reduce CO2 emissions. The most pressing problem derives from the complex heterogeneous nature of biomass. In this project, the researchers intend to develop catalysts that can convert biomass in one step into a mixture of useful compounds. The envisioned process resembles the upgrading of heavy oil feedstock for which shape-selective catalysts are used. To convert biomass, combinations of tailored catalysts are required with optimized Brønsted and Lewis acidity to improve the yield of desirable products. A new approach will be followed in which low-value olefinic by-product will be recycled to the feed with the aim to optimize the aromatics yield. Aromatics are useful fuel components but also important intermediate chemicals for the production of a wide range of products.
Project leader: Prof. Emiel Hensen