ariang at Illinois dot edu
Project Description: Biomass can serve as a feedstock to produce valuable building blocks for specialty chemicals. The conversion of small biomass-derived alcohols into more valuable, long-chain primary alcohols is limited by the broad distribution of products that form by coupling reactions that follow step-growth kinetics. Consequently, the selectivity to any given product is low at relevant conversions. To overcome these limitations, we synthesize active metal centers within the pores of zeolitic materials that possess pores with dimensions suitable for the production of dimers and trimers but small enough to hinder the formation of larger oligomers. Within this approach, we aim to inhibit cross- and self-coupling reactions of larger alcohols in the reaction network to give form high selectivities to predominantly linear, mid-chain length alcohols at high ethanol conversions. Kinetic and spectroscopic techniques are employed to determine the effects of pore size, the identity of the active metal atom, and the hydrophobic nature of the environment surrounding the active site on reaction rates and selectivities.