Mechanocatalysis for biomass-derived chemicals and fuels


C. Bylda, C. Griebel, D. T. Restrepo, E. J. Buker, J. H. Truitt, R. G. Blair, S. M. Hick


Royal Society of Chemistry


Green Chemistry



Heterogeneous catalysis cannot be easily applied to solids such as cellulose. However, by mechanically grinding the correct catalyst and reactant, it is possible to induce solid–solid catalysis or mechanocatalysis. This process allows a wide range of solids to be effectively utilized as feedstock for commercially relevant compounds. Here we show a set of structural and physical parameters important for the implementation of catalysts in mechanocatalytic processes and their application in the catalytic depolymerization of cellulose. Using the best catalysts, which possess high surface acidities and layered structures, up to 84% of the available cellulose can be converted to water-soluble compounds in a single pass. This approach offers significant advantages over current methods - less waste, insensitivity to feedstock, multiple product pathways, and scalability. It can be easily integrated into existing biorefineries - converting them into multi-feedstock and multi-product facilities. This will expand the use of non-food polysaccharide sources such as switch grass.


biomass, catalyst, cellulose, Grinding

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