Cellulosic biomass is an abundant, renewable resource. Finding new ways of dealing with biomass is crucial: in particular, conversion of biomass into useful, environmentally benign, and commercially valuable products is highly desirable. This represents a major scientific challenge since completely new ways of processing biomass must be invented, distinct from established technologies such as those used in processing of petroleum. Much of biomass can be converted in sugars, such as glucose and the challenge is to converted glucose into more useful chemicals that will provide the starting point for producing fuels, or fine chemicals used in drugs, flavourings and fragrances.
My research considers the design of new catalysts, solid materials that lower the energy needed to bring about a chemical reaction, with a novel angle, using inorganic chemistry to focus on discovering new materials. The aim is the conversion of glucose in convenient ways, avoiding the use of harsh and polluting chemicals and using just water as a reaction medium. In this seminar the mechanism of the dehydration of glucose into 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and subsequent development of heterogeneous catalysts will be discussed. Metal Organic Framework (MOF) catalysts used in this reaction will be presented.