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 »
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 »
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 »
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