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Author ORCID ID is 0000000221174259
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  1. The production of renewable chemicals and biofuels must be cost- and performance- competitive with petroleum-derived equivalents to be widely accepted by markets and society. We propose a biomass conversion strategy that maximizes the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass (up to 80% of the biomass to useful products) into high-value products that can be commercialized, providing the opportunity for successful translation to an economically viable commercial process. Our fractionation method preserves the value of all three primary components: (i) cellulose, which is converted into dissolving pulp for fibers and chemicals production; (ii) hemicellulose, which is converted into furfural (a building block chemical);more » and (iii) lignin, which is converted into carbon products (carbon foam, fibers, or battery anodes), together producing revenues of more than $500 per dry metric ton of biomass. Once de-risked, our technology can be extended to produce other renewable chemicals and biofuels.« less
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  2. Composites of electrocatalytically active transition-metal compounds present an intriguing opportunity toward enhanced activity and stability. Here, to identify potentially scalable pairs of a catalytically active family of compounds, we demonstrate that phosphides of iron, nickel, and cobalt can be deposited on molybdenum carbide to generate nanocrystalline heterostructures. Composites synthesized via solvothermal decomposition of metal acetylacetonate salts in the presence of highly dispersed carbide nanoparticles show hydrogen evolution activities comparable to those of state-of-the-art non-noble metal catalysts. Investigation of the spent catalyst using high resolution microscopy and elemental analysis reveals that formation of carbide–phosphide composite prevents catalyst dissolution in acid electrolyte.more » Lattice mismatch between the two constituent electrocatalysts can be used to rationally improve electrochemical stability. Among the composites of iron, nickel, and cobalt phosphide, iron phosphide displays the lowest degree of lattice mismatch with molybdenum carbide and shows optimal electrochemical stability. Turnover rates of the composites are higher than that of the carbide substrate and compare favorably to other electrocatalysts based on earth-abundant elements. Lastly, our findings will inspire further investigation into composite nanocrystalline electrocatalysts that use molybdenum carbide as a stable catalyst support.« less
  3. Reforming whole lignocellulosic biomass into value-added materials has yet to be achieved mainly due to the infusible nature of biomass and its recalcitrance to dissolve in common organic solvents. Recently, the solubility of biomass in ionic liquids (ILs) has been explored to develop all-lignocellulosic materials; however, efficient dissolution and therefore production of value-added materials with desired mechanical properties remain a challenge. This article presents an approach to producing high-performance lignocellulosic films from hybrid poplar wood. An autohydrolysis step that removes ≤50% of the hemicellulose fraction is performed to enhance biomass solvation in 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium acetate ([C2mim][OAc]). The resulting biomass–IL solutionmore » is then cast into free-standing films using different coagulating solvents, yet preserving the polymeric nature of the biomass constituents. Methanol coagulated films exhibit a cocontinuous 3D-network structure with dispersed domains of less than 100 nm. The consolidated films with controllable morphology and structural order demonstrate tensile properties better than those of quasi-isotropic wood. Here, the methods for producing these biomass derivatives have potential for fabricating novel green materials with superior performance from woody and grassy biomass.« less

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