Speaker: Hongfei Lin
Assistant Professor, Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno, United States
Time: Dec 20th (Sunday), 9:30
Venue: Room 226, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
Biomass-derived alkyl lactates are “green” solvents with a growing market as the replacement of petroleum derived toxic organic solvents. Herein we demonstrated that cellulosic biomass can be effectively converted to alkyl lactates in a “one-pot” process using near- / super- critical alcohol-water mixture as the solvents using the Zr-SBA-15 silicate catalysts with tunable mesoporous structures. For the first time, a yield of ~33% ethyl lactate was produced directly from cellulose at 260°C in the supercritical 95:5 (w/w) ethanol/water mixture solution with the Zr-SBA-15 catalyst. Moreover, the high yields of methyl lactate, up to 41 % and 44%, were produced from pentose and hexose, respectively, in the near- critical methanol at 240°C. The Si/Zr ratio of the Zr-SBA-15 catalysts profoundly affected the Lewis acidity and therefore the catalytic activity and selectivity to methyl lactate in the conversion of carbohydrates. The pore size of the Zr-SBA-15 catalysts, tuned by the synthesis temperature, strongly affected the formation of solid residues. Lastly, the catalyst was exceptionally stable in this “one-pot” process.