The present research aims at the development of supported catalysts to promote the conversion of biogenic molecules (e.g. sugars, lignin fractions and others) into chemicals. The central idea is to prepare hybrid meso/macroporous glasses that are sufficiently stable to the corrosive environment of the biomass chemical conversion. The use of glasses as supports allow achieving the desired corrosive resistance, while the presence of mesopores facilitate the creation of highly active surfaces required for proper catalytic conversion. Moreover, the presence of macropores facilitates the mass transfer of large molecules, e.g. lignocellulosic biomass. The synthesis of such materials has been successfully performed in Phase I of the postdoctoral project. Therefore, in Phase II, the FAPESP's research internship abroad (BEPE-PD) will aim to evaluate the catalytic performance of a series of novel macro/mesoporous glasses containing niobium and vanadium oxides. To facilitate the efficient design of high-performance catalysts with desired activity and selectivity for chemicals of industrial interest, a conceptual correlation of the local structure of the catalytically active species and its interactions with biomass feedstock is essential. The characterizations of structural and textural properties of the catalysts have been performed in Phase I. In Phase II, the catalytic properties of the aforementioned materials will be explored in the conversion of biogenic molecules derived from lignocellulosic materials, in collaboration with Dr. Roberto Rinaldi (RR) and his research group at the Department of Chemical Engineering - Imperial College London. RR's lab has a series of analytical techniques for high-throughput screening of catalysts. Results to be obtained in Phase II will aggregate enormous value to the results obtained in Phase I. To undertake the planned research activities, the access to Rinaldi's Lab facilities will be available to the development of Phase II such as NMR, HR-MS, ICP-MS, GCxGC-MS/FID, HPLC, GPC, ESI-MS, CHNS/O analyzer, fast pyrolysis coupled with GC-MS and catalyst test units. Thereby, the well-equipped laboratories and outstanding knowledge in biomass processing of RR's team will guarantee the successful execution of this project.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: