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[Pending] Symposium on Nanomaterials for Energy: Nanocatalysts for Biomass Conversion

By Mahdi Abu-Omar

Department of Chemistry, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Published on


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.


Abu-Omar Born in Jerusalem, Dr. Abu-Omar received his bachelor’s of science degree (summa cum laude) in chemistry from Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia, and his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Iowa State University. As a professor, he directs a research program aimed at developing metal catalysts for renewable energy and environmental applications. He also studies folding dynamics of metalloproteins relating to disease. He joined the department of chemistry at Purdue University in 2003 and is a member of the executive advisory board of the Energy Center. In 2008, he was named University Faculty Scholar. Dr. Abu-Omar is the author or co-author of 70 original research papers published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

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MGRN 121, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, a resource for nanoscience and nanotechnology, is supported by the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.