Navigation Links
Chemical engineers at UMass Amherst find high-yield method of making xylene from biomass
Date:4/30/2012

A team of chemical engineers led by Paul J. Dauenhauer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a new, high-yield method of producing the key ingredient used to make plastic bottles from biomass. The process is inexpensive and currently creates the chemical p-xylene with an efficient yield of 75-percent, using most of the biomass feedstock, Dauenhauer says. The research is published in the journal ACS Catalysis.

Dauenhauer, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UMass Amherst, says the new discovery shows that there is an efficient, renewable way to produce a chemical that has immediate and recognizable use for consumers. He says the plastics industry currently produces p-xylene from petroleum and that the new renewable process creates exactly the same chemical from biomass.

'You can mix our renewable chemical with the petroleum-based material and the consumer would not be able to tell the difference," Dauenhauer says.

Consumers will already know the plastics made from this new process by the triangular recycling label "#1" on plastic containers. Xylene chemicals are used to produce a plastic called PET (or polyethylene terephthalate), which is currently used in many products including soda bottles, food packaging, synthetic fibers for clothing and even automotive parts.

The new process uses a zeolite catalyst capable of transforming glucose into p-xylene in a three-step reaction within a high-temperature biomass reactor. Dauenhauer says this is a major breakthrough since other methods of producing renewable p-xylene are either expensive (e.g., fermentation) or are inefficient due to low yields.

A key to the success of this new process is the use of a catalyst that is specifically designed to promote the p-xylene reaction over other less desirable reactions. Dauenhauer says his research colleagues, professors Wei Fan of UMass Amherst and Raul Lobo of the University of Delaware, designed the catalyst. After a series of modifications, the team was able to help enhance the yield of the reaction. He also says additional modification of the process can further boost p-xylene yield and make the process more economically attractive.

"We discovered that the performance of the biomass reaction was strongly affected by the nanostructure of the catalyst, which we were able to optimize and achieve 75-percent yield," Fan says. Computations conducted by the team have been instrumental in understanding the reaction mechanism and the role of the catalyst as well as making alteration to the catalyst to improve the yield of the process.

Besides Dauenhauer and Fan, the research team is made up of UMass Amherst's C. Luke Williams and Chun-Chih Chang, doctoral students in chemical engineering, and their collaborators, professors Raul F. Lobo, Dionisios G. Vlachos and Stavros Caratzoulas, as well as doctoral student Nima Nikbin, and postdoctoral fellow Phuong Do from the University of Delaware.

This discovery is a part of a larger effort by the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) to create breakthrough technologies for the production of biofuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass. The center is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Energy Frontiers Research Center (EFRC) program which combines more than 20 faculty members with complimentary research skills to collaborate on solving the world's most pressing energy challenges.

The discovery for the production of plastics adds another dimension to the portfolio of accomplishments of CCEI. In 2010, a CCEI research team led by Mark Davis of Caltech discovered a new catalyst, called Tin-Beta, which can convert glucose into fructose. This is the first step in the production of a large number of targeted products including biofuels and biochemicals, including p-xylene, from the building block of cellulose, the major constituent of trees and switchgrass.

In addition, a team led by Ray Gorte and John Vohs at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a novel fuel cells technology that converts solid biomass to electricity and another led by George Huber and Wei Fan of UMass Amherst has improved the yield to aromatics that can be used as drop-in fuels to gasoline.


'/>"/>

Contact: Paul J. Dauenhauer
dauenhauer@ecs.umass.edu
413-545-2819
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Chemical equator discovery will aid pollution mapping
2. Researcher working on destruction of chemical weapons
3. Argonne scientists peer into heart of compound that may detect chemical, biological weapons
4. American Chemical Societys Weekly PressPac -- Sept. 24, 2008
5. A major prize in the chemical sciences announced by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
6. American Chemical Societys Weekly PressPac
7. American Chemical Society Weekly PressPac Oct. 15, 2008
8. UC Davis chemical ecologist wins major award
9. Sniffing out a better chemical sensor
10. Simple chemical procedure augments therapeutic potential of stem cells
11. Researchers use chemical from medicinal plants to fight HIV
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/2/2017)... Summary This report provides all ... and its partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... The Partnering Deals and Alliance since 2010 report provides ... of the world,s leading life sciences companies. ... ensure inclusion of the most up to date deal ...
(Date:2/28/2017)... News solutions for biometrics, bag drop and ... ... to 16 March, Materna will present its complete end-to-end passenger ... is a real benefit for passengers. To accelerate the whole ... touch point solutions to take passengers through the complete integrated ...
(Date:2/22/2017)... With the biometrics market to exceed ... technologies that innovative and agile startups must incorporate ... the changing competitive landscape: multifactor authentication (MFA), point-of-sale ... "Companies can no longer afford to cut ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Industry Analyst at ABI Research. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/29/2017)... , March 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -  GeneNews Limited (TSX:GEN) ... BreastSentry™ , a new risk stratification test for breast cancer, ... Innovative Diagnostics Laboratory ("IDL"). BreastSentry incorporates a blood-based biomarker test ... lifetime risk for developing breast cancer.   ... BreastSentry measures the fasting ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... ... 28, 2017 , ... Mass spectrometry is becoming more widely for clinical testing ... by its potential to perform challenging analyses in complex matrices and sample types. While ... addressed for it to be routinely used for medical testing. , In ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... 28, 2017 Summary This report ... Biochem and its partnering interests and activities since 2010. ... an in-depth insight into the partnering activity of one of ... company reports are prepared upon purchase to ensure inclusion of ... The report will be delivered in PDF format within ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... SACRAMENTO, Calif. , March 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... Officer of international life sciences corporation Anpac ... company set a new, international record, processing and ... proprietary, "Cancer Differentiation Analysis" (CDA) liquid ... in World Nobel Prize Laureate Summit publications, Anpac ...
Breaking Biology Technology: