Biomass is a renewable and alternative source to the traditional fossil (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) for producing fuels and chemicals. While it has a tremendous potential to alleviate problems caused by fossil fuels, the major impediment to utilization of biomass resources is the lack of cost-effective processes for conversion of biomass resources. The goal of our group is to develop innovative and strategic approaches for conversion of biomass into value added chemicals and liquid fuels based on catalytic technology, and to understand the mechanisms behind these transformations. Currently, our major research thrusts are listed below:
1. Transformation of raw biomass and its main components cellulose, hemicelluose, and lignin to chemicals.
2. Transformation of carbohydrates and sugar-derived products to value added products.
3. Catalytic routes for the production of liquid hydrocarbon fuel from biomass derived platform molecule.
4. Conversion of carbohydrates to furan-based renewable products.
Participants: Prof. Aiqin Wang, Dr. Mingyuan Zheng, Dr. Ning Li, Dr. Changzhi Li, Dr. Jifeng Pang, MS. Yu Jiang, MS. Hua Wang.
☆ Catalytic conversion of cellulose into ethylene glycol and other polyols.
In this project, we opened an avenue that selectively converts cellulose into ethylene glycol, by using less expensive tungsten-based catalysts and hot water as the reaction media. Especially, when small amount of nickel was added as a promoter, the selectivity to glycol could be as high as 61% (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 8510-8513；Catal. Today 2009, 147, 77-85). Following the above discovery, we further developed a series of tungsten based bimetallic catalysts for this reaction (ChemSusChem, 2010, 3, 63-66). In the meantime, by employing a new 3D interconnected mesoporous carbon as the support, we obtained a highly active, selective, and robust tungsten carbide catalyst for the production of EG from cellulose (Chem. Commun, 2010, 46, 862-864). More recently, raw biomass such as corn stalk, jerusalem artichoke tuber have been applied for the one-pot efficiently production of polyols (Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 2011, 50, 6601; ChemSusChem. 2012, 5, 932-938
☆ Hydrolysis of cellulose.
Among various cellulose conversion processes, hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose is virtually an essential but difficult step. In our recent work, the hydrolysis of cellulose over sulfonated carbons was promoted greatly by elevating the sulfonation temperature. With 250℃ sulfonated CMK-3 as a catalyst, the cellulose was selectively hydrolyzed into glucose with the yield as high as 74.5%, which is the highest level reported so far on solid acid catalysts (Chem. Commun., 2010, 46, 6935-6937). In the meantime, considering that imidazolium-based ionic liquids provide a potential for the conversion of cellulose in a homogeneous circumstance, we developed the high efficient hydrolysis of cellulose over H-type zeolites in ionic liquid under mild condition. This conversion process features with free pretreatment of cellulose, mild condition, fast reaction rate, as well as easy recycle of the catalyst.
☆ Catalytic conversion of lignin to chemicals and fuel.
In plants, lignin accounts for up to 35% by weight and it is the only large renewable bio-source of aromatics in nature. In this project, we aim to the production of high-value bulk aromatic chemicals and alkane fuels by the combination of catalytic strategies and new solvents. With our previously developed Ni-W2C/AC catalyst, it was found that the lignin component in raw woody biomass could be effectively hydrocracked to monophenols with impressive yields. In our process, the woody biomass is free of pretreatment, the reaction medium is water and no liquid acid or base is required (they are usually regarded as an essential ingredient for lignin degradation). (Energy Environ. Sci. 2012, 5, 6383-6390).
1. Direct Catalytic Conversion of Cellulose into Ethylene Glycol Using Nickel-Promoted Tungsten Carbide Catalysts. Na Ji, Tao Zhang, Mingyuan Zheng, Aiqin Wang, Hui Wang, Xiaodong Wang, and Jingguang G. Chen, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 8510-8513.
2. One-pot catalytic hydrocracking of raw woody biomass into chemicals over supported carbide catalysts: simultaneous conversion of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, Changzhi Li, Mingyuan Zheng, Aiqin Wang, Tao Zhang, Energy Environ. Sci. 2012, Advance Article, DOI: 10.1039/C1EE02684D.
3. Selective production of 1,2-propylene glycol from Jerusalem artichoke tuber on Ni-W2C/AC catalysts, Likun Zhou, Aiqin Wang, Changzhi Li, Mingyuan Zheng, and Tao Zhang. ChemSusChem, 2012, in press.
4. Catalytic Hydrogenation of Corn Stalk to Ethylene Glycol and 1,2-Propylene Glycol. Jifeng Pang, Aiqin Wang, Mingyuan Zheng, Tao Zhang, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 50(11)(2011)6601-6608.
5. Microwave-promoted conversion of concentrated fructose into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural in ionic liquids in the absence of catalysts. Changzhi Li, Zongbao Zhao, Haile Cai, Aiqin Wang, Tao Zhang, Biomass Bioenerg., 35(1)(2011)2013-2017.
6. Production of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural in ionic liquids under high fructose concentration conditions. Changzhi Li, Zongbao K. Zhao, Aiqin Wang, Mingyuan Zheng, Tao Zhang, Carbohydr. Res., 345(2010)1846-1850.
7. Selective transformation of cellulose into sorbitol by using a bifunctional nickel phosphide catalyst. Lining Ding, Aiqin Wang, Mingyuan Zheng, Tao Zhang, ChemSusChem, 3 (2010) 818-821.
8. Hydrolysis of cellulose into glucose over carbons sulfonated at elevated temperatures. Jifeng Pang, Aiqin Wang, Mingyuan Zheng, Tao Zhang, Chem. Commun., 46(2010)6935-6937.
9. Transition metal-tungsten bimetallic catalysts for the conversion of cellulose into ethylene glycol. Mingyuan Zheng, Aiqin Wang, Naji, Jifeng Pang, Xiaodong Wang, Tao Zhang, ChemSusChem, 3 (2010) 63-66.
10. A new 3D mesoporous carbon replicated from commercial silica as a catalyst support for direct conversion of cellulose into ethylene glycol. Yanhua Zhang, Aiqin Wang, Tao Zhang, Chem. Commun, 46 (2010) 862-864.
11. Catalytic Conversion of Cellulose to Ethylene Glycol over Tungsten Phosphide Catalysts, Zhao G. H., Zheng M. Y., Wang A. Q., Zhang T. Chin. J. Catal., 31(2010)928-932.
12. Catalytic conversion of cellulose into ethylene glycol over supported carbide catalysts, Na Ji, Tao Zhang, Mingyuan Zheng, Aiqin Wang, Hui Wang, Xiaodong Wang, Yuying Shu, Alan L. Stottlemyer, Jingguang G. Chen. Catal. Today 147 (2009) 77-85.