Catalysis Today, Vol.147, No.2, 115-125, 2009
Catalytic conversion of biomass-derived carbohydrates to fuels and chemicals by formation and upgrading of mono-functional hydrocarbon intermediates
Aqueous solutions of sugars and polyols can be converted in a single catalytic process to produce a spontaneously separating organic phase consisting of hydrophobic mono-functional hydrocarbons. The process is shown to be stable for over 2 months time on stream at typical reaction conditions (e.g., 503 K and 18 bar total pressure). The composition and yield of this organic phase can be controlled by adjusting process variables, such as temperature, pressure and space velocity. This organic phase contains primarily mono-functional species such as ketones, alcohols, heterocycles, and organic acids. These oxygenated hydrocarbons can serve as an intermediate platform for the conversion of renewable biomass resources into chemicals and fuels. The organic phase can be separated into individual chemicals or can be upgraded to yield specific classes of chemicals. For example, heterocycles can be separated and used as solvents, additives or blending agents for transportation fuels, while aldol-condensation of the ketones and alcohols can produce long chains species for use as alkane fuels. Alternatively, this platform can be tuned to produce alcohols by reducing the ketone and acid groups. Dehydration of these alcohols produces olefins that have use in either the polymer industry, or as feeds for liquid fuels. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.