Biomass conversion in Pickering emulsions
The majority of chemicals and fuels are originated from fossil resources. As these resources are finite and their use the primary cause of climate change, other feedstocks have to be found to provide us with enough energy and chemical resources. A promising feedstock is biomass, especially non-edible biomass, e.g. agricultural waste.1 The catalytic conversion of biomass to valuable end products is complex and involves multiple catalytic steps. Nature offers interesting solutions to approach this chemical complexity. One such solution is to compartmentalize, i.e. to physically separate incompatible reactive components.2 Mimicking this strategy, compartmentalization could be used in biomass conversion, for example to perform consecutive acid- and base-catalyzed steps in one pot. In this research Pickering emulsions (PEs), emulsions stabilized by solid nanoparticles, will be used for compartmentalization and the conversion of sugars to platform molecules.3 Organocatalysts will be used for biomass conversion in both phases to perform tandem reactions within the emulsion. In addition to allow otherwise incompatible tandem reactions to occur, the essentially biphasic systems are also expected to reduce side product formation by efficient extraction of reactive intermediates.
1 Ragaukas, A. J. et al., Science, 2006, 311, 484.
2 Peters, R. J. R. W. et al., Chem. Sci. 2012, 3, 335.
3 Loget, G.; Kuhn, A., J. Mater. Chem. 2012, 22, 15457.