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Title: Bio-inspired MOF-based Catalysts for Lignin Valorization.

Lignin is a potentially plentiful source of renewable organics, with %7E50Mtons/yr produced by the pulp/paper industry and 200-300 Mtons/yr projected production by a US biofuels industry. This industry must process approximately 1 billion tons of biomass to meet the US Renewable Fuel goals. However, there are currently no efficient processes for converting lignin to value-added chemicals and drop-in fuels. Lignin is therefore an opportunity for production of valuable renewable chemicals, but presents staggering technical and economic challenges due to the quantities of material involved and the strong chemical bonds comprising this polymer. Aggressive chemistries and high temperatures are required to degrade lignin without catalysts. Moreover, chemical non-uniformity among lignins leads to complex product mixtures that tend to repolymerize. Conventional petrochemical approaches (pyrolysis, catalytic cracking, gasification) are energy intensive (400-800 degC), require complicated separations, and remove valuable chemical functionality. Low-temperature (25-200 degC) alternatives are clearly desirable, but enzymes are thermally fragile and incompatible with liquid organic compounds, making them impractical for large-scale biorefining. Alternatively, homogeneous catalysts, such as recently developed vanadium complexes, must be separated from product mixtures, while many heterogenous catalysts involve costly noble metals. The objective of this project is to demonstrate proof of concept that an entirely newmore » class of biomimetic, efficient, and industrially robust synthetic catalysts based on nanoporous Metal- Organic Frameworks (MOFs) can be developed. Although catalytic MOFs are known, catalysis of bond cleavage reactions needed for lignin degradation is completely unexplored. Thus, fundamental research is required that industry and most sponsoring agencies are currently unwilling to undertake. We introduce MOFs infiltrated with titanium and nickel species as catalysts for the C-O bond hydrogenolysis in model compounds, which mimic the b-O-4, a-O-4, and 4-O-5 linkages of natural lignin. The versatile IRMOF-74(n) series is proposed as a platform for creating efficient hydrogenolysis catalysts as it not only displays tunable pore sizes, but also has the required thermal and chemical stability. The catalytic C-O bond cleavage occurs at 10 bar hydrogen pressure and temperatures as low as 120 degC. The conversion efficiency of the aromatic ether substrates into the corresponding hydrocarbons and phenols varies as PhCH 2 CH 2 OPh > PhCH 2 OPh > PhOPh (Ph = phenyl), while the catalytic activity generally follows the following trend Ni@IRMOF-74>Ti@IRMOF-74>IRMOF-74. Conversions as high as 80%, coupled with good selectivity for hydrogenolysis vs. hydrogenation, highlight the potential of MOF-based catalysts for the selective cleavage of recalcitrant aryl-ether bonds found in lignin and other biopolymers. This project supports the DOE Integrated Biorefinery Program goals, the objective of which is to convert biomass to fuels and high-value chemicals, by addressing an important technology gap: the lack of low-temperature catalysts suitable for industrial lignin degradation. Biomass, which is %7E30 wt% lignin, constitutes a potentially major source of platform chemicals that could improve overall profitability and productivity of all energy-related products, thereby benefiting consumers and reducing national dependence on imported oil. Additionally, DoD has a strong interest in low-cost drop-in fuels (Navy Biofuel Initiative) and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DOE and USDA to develop a sustainable biofuels industry.« less
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Publication Date:
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Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-CA), Livermore, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States