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Transition metal catalysts have been an integral part of the success story of the petrochemical industry in the past century. Two of the grand challenges for this century are renewable energy and the utilization of green resources. Approximately 1.4 billion tons of lignocellulosic biomass is an annually renewable source of energy and chemical feedstock in the U.S. alone. The major components of biomass are cellulose, hemicellulose/xylan, and lignin- all polymeric and contain high percentage of oxygen. I will describe catalytic processes based on materials that can be employed in tandem to unravel polymeric biomass into soluble components and their subsequent transformation into fuels and high value organics. Two reactions will be highlighted, ether C-O cleavage in lignin followed by hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) using Pd nanoparticulate catalysts and deoxydehydration of vicinal diols to make alkenes using molecular and nano oxorhenium catalysts.
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research
Indo-US Science & Technology Forum
NSF - Office of International Science and Engineering
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MGRN 121, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN