EBI Personnel Directory Katz, Alexander
Lignocellulosic biomass processing is fundamentally limited by the availability of low-cost processing methods for depolymerization and hydrolysis. This project uses rational design of catalytic materials to develop materials to facilitate the chemoselective conversion of biomass into fuel. Because dissolved cellulose is an imperative precursor in biofuel production, the lab is also developing cost-effective processing dissolution schemes. The novel strategies the group is employing hold promise as complementary methods to biological treatment of biomass.
This project focuses on enhancing biomass depolymerization with the use of reactive materials consisting of mesoporous carbons. These materials are investigated with particular emphasis on the cellulose and hemicellolose fractions of biomass while also accounting for the presence of lignin, using miscanthus as a biomass source. The approach leverages on the known absorptive capabilities of these materials with regards to biomass as well as the emerging demonstration of acid-functionalized carbons as glycosidic-bond hydrolysis catalysts, which convert cellulose to glucose in aqueous media, among other transformations. The project emphasizes using real biomass sources and practical process conditions for developing an overarching understanding of the mechanisms by which mesoporous carbons enhance biomass depolymerization.