Hydrothermally Stable Porous Titania-Based Catalysts for Selective Conversion of Biomass to Chemicals

Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 10:30 AM
Grand Ballroom I (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Qianying Guo and Mark A. Snyder, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

Various technological challenges have stifled the rapid commercialization of the integrated biorefinery despite its promise for deriving liquid fuels and high-value chemicals from renewable cellulosic feedstocks. While catalytic routes are attractive, many conventional metal-oxide supported catalysts tend to be unstable and ineffective under the hydrothermal conditions and in the presence of the high-functionality components of biorefinery streams. We will describe our work aimed at the rational design of hydrothermally stable, hierarchically porous, multifunctional titania-based catalysts suitable for downstream conversion of sugary biomass derivatives. We employ a nanotemplating approach in which pre-formed sacrificial inorganic structures (i.e., colloidal crystals and/or carbon replica structures bearing pore bodies tunable with near nanometer resolution) serve as templates for titania replication. The hard inorganic templates help resist titania pore collapse upon calcination-induced structural coarsening, and the decoupling of template organization and replication allows for precise and versatile pore engineering. Incorporation of catalytic (e.g., gold nanoparticles) and organic surface functionality (e.g., ether/acid) into the porous titania replicas is aimed at tailoring reactivity for tandem dehydration-oxidation chemistries. This talk will focus on both materials synthesis, characterization, and catalytic testing, the latter employing the test bed conversion of sugars to high-value building block chemicals like hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and 2,5-furan dimethylcarboxylate (FDMC).

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