(5ac) Designed Syntheses of Micro and Meso Porous Materials as Catalysts for Petrochemistry, Fine Chemistry and Conversion of Biomass

Fan, W., University of Massachusetts Amherst

Crude oil as the major feedstock for the petrochemical industry is the dominant energy source driving the world economy, but known oil reserves will cover demand for no more than 50 years at the current rate of consumption. This situation requests more efficient strategies for converting crude oil into fuel, petrochemical products and fine chemical products. Moreover, with decreasing crude oil reserves, enhanced demand for fuels worldwide, increased climate concerns about the use of fossil-based energy carriers, and political commitment, the focus has recently turned towards improved utilization of renewable energy resources. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass is an abundant and carbon-neutral renewable energy resource for the production of biofuels and valuable chemicals. Heterogeneous catalysts are primarily used for catalytic fuel-upgrading in refineries and also for the production of various petrochemicals. Their superior performance can often be attributed to the existence of a well-defined system of micropore with uniform shape and size. However, in many cases, the sole presence of micropore can also be a major limitation because mass transport to and from the active sites located within the micropore is slow, which is often limiting the performance of industrial catalysts. I aim to design and prepare a new class of solid catalysts with tunable hierarchical pore structure, as well as controllable surface properties, with the consideration of the applications in conversion of crude oil, synthesis of fine chemicals and conversion of biomass. With the presence of ordered microporosity and mesoporosity, the catalysts are expected to exhibit the molecular sieving properties of zeolites without the mass transfer limitations, and high accessibility for large components from biomass. Furthermore, tunable pore structures and controllable surface properties allow us to rationally design the catalysts for various chemical reactions.