New one-pot methanol-mediated process for conversion of wood and cellulosic solids to liquid fuels

Read the full post at Green Car Congress.

Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have developed a one-pot process for the catalytic conversions of wood and cellulosic solids to liquid and gaseous products in a reactor operating at 300–320 °C and 160-220 bar. Little or no char is formed during this process.

The reaction medium is supercritical methanol (sc-MeOH) and the catalyst—a copper-doped porous metal oxide—is composed of earth-abundant materials, they report in a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The major liquid product is a mixture of C2–C6 aliphatic alcohols and methylated derivatives thereof that are, in principle, suitable for applications as liquid fuels.

Full citation for the research article: Theodore D. Matson, Katalin Barta, Alexei V. Iretskii, Peter C. Ford (2011) One-Pot Catalytic Conversion of Cellulose and of Woody Biomass Solids to Liquid Fuels. Journal of the American Chemical Society doi: 10.1021/ja205436.

Abstract: Efficient methodologies for converting biomass solids to liquid fuels have the potential to reduce dependence on imported petroleum while easing the atmospheric carbon dioxide burden. Here, we report quantitative catalytic conversions of wood and cellulosic solids to liquid and gaseous products in a single stage reactor operating at 300–320 °C and 160–220 bar. Little or no char is formed during this process. The reaction medium is supercritical methanol (sc-MeOH) and the catalyst, a copper-doped porous metal oxide, is composed of earth-abundant materials. The major liquid product is a mixture of C2–C6 aliphatic alcohols and methylated derivatives thereof that are, in principle, suitable for applications as liquid fuels.

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