The necessity to develop novel routes for the sustainable supply of transportation fuels and chemicals impose increasing pressure in all practical fields of science and engineering. Lignocellulosic biomass is one of the most promising renewable feedstocks. Carbohydrates are the main constituents of cellulosic and hemi cellulosic biomass. 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is considered a key bio renewable intermediate for the further production of biofuels and chemicals. Although HMF can be obtained from fructose in high yield, selective transformation of glucose, the dominant sugar in cellulosic biomass, remains a challenge.
Utilization of the lignocellulosic biomass requires the development of novel technologies for the selective depolymerization of polymeric carbohydrates into sugars monomers followed by their efficient conversion into platform molecules and downstream products. Similar to highly efficient petrochemical refineries, catalysts will play a central role to selectively alter or remove functionalities from renewable feedstocks at specific molecular sites in future biorefinery processes. Our research focuses on the development of heterogeneous catalytic systems capable of selectively converting the lignocellulosic biomass into platform molecules and end products.