Solid acid catalysts for biomass and sugar upgrading to furans
Romo, Joelle Elise
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Platform chemicals derived from biomass provide a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels, chemicals, and materials. The efficient production of chemical building blocks, such as 5-hydroxymethylfurufral (HMF) and furfural, requires an optimized catalyst and reaction system, as well as an efficient system in which catalysts and products can be easily recovered. While homogeneous acid catalysts have historically been a popular choice for furan production, additional safety, material, and corrosion considerations motivates the exploration of heterogeneous solid acid catalysts. Furthermore, biphasic reaction systems, which use an organic solvent to continuously extract products, have shown increased furan yields over aqueous and monophasic systems and can allow for easy product recovery if the boiling point is selected carefully. One class of heterogeneous catalysts known as zeolites, has unique potential for furfural and HMF production with its controlled acidic and structural properties. A novel SAPO- 34/5A zeolite bead is presented in this thesis, showing promise in catalyst design for activity, product selectivity, and stability. The combination of optimized solvent systems with carefully designed solid acid catalysts lays a framework for the progression of platform chemical production from biomass. Additionally, a comprehensive review of heterogeneous catalysts for furan production in biphasic systems is presented here, which informs decisions on optimized solvent selection.