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Catalysing valorised biomass production

Transformation of biomass into valuable materials (valorisation) reduces the burden on landfills, provides eco-friendly products and enhances sustainability. Novel catalysts may soon simplify processing and yield many products simultaneously.

Industrial Technologies

Utilising by-products of agricultural waste and food-processing streams requires efficient, effective and green catalyst systems. EU-funded scientists delivered such systems with work on the project 'Designing bifunctional nano-alloy catalysts for bio-renewable feedstock valorisation' (BIFUNC-NANOCAT). Bi-metallic nanoalloy-based catalysts such as gold-palladium have reportedly high activity in many oxidation or reduction single-step organic transformations. Scientists expanded the repertoire by adding ruthenium-palladium nanoalloys. They prepared both bi-metallic nanoalloy-based catalysts using a pioneering anion-excess modification of the conventional wet-impregnation method (MIm) developed by a project researcher. Investigators characterised these nanoalloy-based catalysts with a plethora of advanced microscopic and spectroscopic techniques. Most importantly, researchers demonstrated the efficacy of these bi-metallic nanoalloy-based catalysts in catalysing multiple reactions in a cascade. Reactions included both oxidation and reduction for 'one-pot' synthesis and valorisation. More efficient and effective catalysts will open the door to greater exploitation and valorisation of biomass. Potential products range from biofuels to additives for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Beneficiaries exist all along the supply chain, not to mention consumers and the environment.

Keywords

Biomass, valorisation, catalyst, nanoalloy, bi-metallic, gold, palladium, ruthenium, anion-excess, wet-impregnation

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