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Integrated biorefinery in continuous flow systems using sustainable heterogeneous catalysts


Brandi,  Francesco
Majd Al-Naji, Kolloidchemie, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Brandi, F. (2022). Integrated biorefinery in continuous flow systems using sustainable heterogeneous catalysts. PhD Thesis, Universität, Potsdam.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-AFBC-E
The negative impact of crude oil on the environment has led to a necessary transition toward alternative, renewable, and sustainable resources. In this regard, lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) is a promising renewable and sustainable alternative to crude oil for the production of fine chemicals and fuels in a so-called biorefinery process. LCB is composed of polysaccharides (cellulose and hemicellulose), as well as aromatics (lignin). The development of a sustainable and economically advantageous biorefinery depends on the complete and efficient valorization of all components. Therefore, in the new generation of biorefinery, the so-called biorefinery of type III, the LCB feedstocks are selectively deconstructed and catalytically transformed into platform chemicals. For this purpose, the development of highly stable and efficient catalysts is crucial for progress toward viability in biorefinery. Furthermore, a modern and integrated biorefinery relies on process and reactor design, toward more efficient and cost-effective methodologies that minimize waste. In this context, the usage of continuous flow systems has the potential to provide safe, sustainable, and innovative transformations with simple process integration and scalability for biorefinery schemes. This thesis addresses three main challenges for future biorefinery: catalyst synthesis, waste feedstock valorization, and usage of continuous flow technology. Firstly, a cheap, scalable, and sustainable approach is presented for the synthesis of an efficient and stable 35 wt.-% Ni catalyst on highly porous nitrogen-doped carbon support (35Ni/NDC) in pellet shape. Initially, the performance of this catalyst was evaluated for the aqueous phase hydrogenation of LCB-derived compounds such as glucose, xylose, and vanillin in continuous flow systems. The 35Ni/NDC catalyst exhibited high catalytic performances in three tested hydrogenation reactions, i.e., sorbitol, xylitol, and 2-methoxy-4-methylphenol with yields of 82 mol%, 62 mol%, and 100 mol% respectively. In addition, the 35Ni/NDC catalyst exhibited remarkable stability over a long time on stream in continuous flow (40 h). Furthermore, the 35Ni/NDC catalyst was combined with commercially available Beta zeolite in a dual–column integrated process for isosorbide production from glucose (yield 83 mol%). Finally, 35Ni/NDC was applied for the valorization of industrial waste products, namely sodium lignosulfonate (LS) and beech wood sawdust (BWS) in continuous flow systems. The LS depolymerization was conducted combining solvothermal fragmentation of water/alcohol mixtures (i.e.,methanol/water and ethanol/water) with catalytic hydrogenolysis/hydrogenation (SHF). The depolymerization was found to occur thermally in absence of catalyst with a tunable molecular weight according to temperature. Furthermore, the SHF generated an optimized cumulative yield of lignin-derived phenolic monomers of 42 mg gLS-1. Similarly, a solvothermal and reductive catalytic fragmentation (SF-RCF) of BWS was conducted using MeOH and MeTHF as a solvent. In this case, the optimized total lignin-derived phenolic monomers yield was found of 247 mg gKL-1.