The use of electrospinning to generate one dimensional materials has garnered significant interest lately due to its inexpensive nature and the diversity of materials fabricated. Recently one dimensional materials have also been investigated to support catalytic nanoparticles to prevent aggregation while maintaining high surface area to volume ratios. In this study inorganic monoaxial nanofibers with nanocrystals dispersed throughout the fiber as well as coaxial nanofibers with nanocrystals selectively placed in the sheath layer have been fabricated through sol-gel synthesis and electrospinning followed by thermal treatment. The fiber morphology and metal domains in silica nanofibers were studied using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The resulting silica nanofibers containing metal domains were applied as a catalyst system for the alkaline hydrolysis of biomass to produce hydrogen with minimal carbon monoxide or dioxide contents. Our results demonstrate that a conversion of nearly 100 percent can be achieved, and by placing the catalyst within the sheath layer of the nanofibers, the amount of catalyst required can be significantly reduced (up to four fold).
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