Catalytic Transformation of Biomass Derived Platform Molecules into High-value Chemicals and Biofuels (Liu)

Project: Research project

Project Details


Catalytic Transformation of Biomass Derived Platform Molecules into High-value Chemicals and Biofuels (Liu) Catalytic Transformation of Biomass Derived Platform Molecules into High-value Chemicals and Biofuels Nature of Work: Conduct fundamental study of the selected heterogeneous catalyst systems to understand their structure-performance relationships for aqueous phase catalysis that are relevant to ADMs product pipelines. Background Information: The ADM Company is interested in understanding the fundamental characteristics of its catalytic systems which are being used at ADMs manufacturing plants with the goal of improving/optimizing the performance of the second-generation catalysts as well as developing new catalysts that provide much better selectivity toward the targeted molecules. The ultimate goal is to transform biomass derived platform molecules into commercially competitive value added chemicals. This program is expected to be conducted in three phases: Phase I: Characterize the structure and surface chemistry of the ADM first (Re-Ni/carbon based) and second generation (Re-Cu-Zn/carbon based) supported bimetallic or multimetallic catalysts Phase II: Investigate the surface reaction mechanisms on the selected catalytic systems and understand how the structural and compositional characteristics affect their activity, selectivity and stability for catalytic transformations of sorbitol to glycerol, propylene glycol, and ethylene glycol; in collaboration with research partners at Washington State U. and ADM, develop toolboxes to understand the aqueous phase catalytic transformations of biomass derived molecules Phase III: Collaborate with WSU and ADM to optimize the toolboxes and utilize such toolboxes to develop highly selective catalysts for sorbitol (glycerol) conversions to propylene glycol, ethylene glycol, and other types of value-added chemicals and biofuels; While this scope of work focuses on Phase I objectives it also contains method development aspects that are critical to the success of Phase II and III objectives of this program. Catalytic Transformation of Biomass Derived Platform Molecules into High-value Chemicals and Biofuels The ADM Company has an interest in the fundamental understanding and design of supported metal catalysts for selective conversions of simple sugars and polyols into valuable chemical products and intermediates. The design of catalysts for these conversions represents a grand challenge for multiple reasons: 1) most feedstocks are highly functionalized with similar types of groups such that selective chemistry is difficult to achieve even with single-site catalysts; 2) the reaction systems tend to be complex three-phase processes exhibiting multiple opportunities for mass transfer rather than material properties to impact activity and selectivity; 3) the catalysts must be stable under high temperature, corrosive, aqueous conditions; and, 4) it is incredibly difficult to understand let alone control the structure of most supported metal nanoparticles, clusters, and atoms, especially under reaction conditions. The work aims to contribute to ADMs body of knowledge and increase the pace and efficacy of their catalytic process discovery and development efforts. This effort is the continuation of a joint research effort between ADM, Washington State University, and Arizona State University (ASU) begun in October of 2016. Prof. Lius group at ASU has expertise in advanced electron microscopy characterization of heterogeneous catalysts, synthesis and catalytic evaluation (gas and liquid phase reactions) of nanostructures with a focus on the development and applications of single-atom catalysts, and correlating synthesis-structure-performance relationships of model catalytic systems. The Liu Lab possesses capabilities of synthesizing supported metal catalysts and novel support structures, testing of gas- and liquid-phase catalytic reactions, and characterization (especially by aberration-corrected and environmental electron microscopy/spectroscopy techniques) of supported metal catalysts. During phase I of this program, Lius group developed robust protocols for characterizing the spatial distribution of metal nanoparticles in the ADM catalysts from pellet scale down to single metal atoms of key components. Based on these extensive studies, the group proposed structures of the fresh and used ADM CuReZn/C catalysts and provided deep insights into the understanding of the ADM CuReZn/C working catalyst, especially the presence of and role of the small Cu/Re clusters and single atoms. The group has also conducted initial investigations on the nanostructures of the ADM NiRe/C catalysts. Prof. Buttrys group has expertise in the general areas of electrochemistry, adsorption and the behavior of nanoparticles (NPs). Specifically, the group has studied chemical processes of metal NPs, including their synthesis, NP oxidation to metal oxides, electrochemically induced adsorption of various types of adsorbates on metal NPs and their attachment at surfaces so their behavior can be studied. The group also has expertise in a variety of spectroscopies that can be used to study metal NPs, including FTIR, Raman, and uv-vis. A significant contribution to the last phase of the project involved the development of electrochemical tools that give surface area information about metal NPs supported on various types of carbon substrates and how that surface area evolves as the metal NPs are used in catalysis or simulated catalysis (i.e. redox cycling). The group also proposed a model that describes how Re acts to stabilize the metal NP dispersion for CuRe and CuReZn catalysts.
Effective start/end date10/24/162/28/19


  • INDUSTRY: Domestic Company: $760,831.00


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