A video on the sustainable fuels and chemicals from biomass by Dr Christopher M. A. Parlett, University of Manchester – Diamond Light Source Research Fellow in Catalysis
Lignocellulosic biomass represents a sustainable feedstock for the production of carbon-based chemicals and fuels, which can function as drop-in replacements for conventional fossil fuel derived equivalents. Furthermore, using non-edible plant matter, such as agricultural and forestry residues or the cultivation of energy crops (on waste ground), circumvents the food v fuel debate and can add value to perceived waste. Developing this renewable feedstock is critical to meeting both the demands of a growing global population and UK targets for achieving net-zero. However, stark differences in the chemical composition of lignocellulose to conventional feedstocks dictate different processing conditions and catalytic material properties, such as lower temperatures, aqueous phase reaction media, and capacity to decrease oxygen content of the feedstock. To further complicate the situation, the complex nature of lignocellulose hampers its direct valorisation, with processing entailing an array of distinct different chemical reactions. The development of one-pot processes for biomass valorisation, therefore, requires multifunctional materials with the ability to facilitate more than one class of chemical transformations. At the Catalysis Hub, we are currently developing novel multifunctional catalysts, with nanoscale control, for multistep catalytic cascade conversion of sugars (cellulose and hemicellulose derived) into an array of products, including fuels, solvents, and biopolymer monomers.