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Department Seminar: James Dumesic

Steenbock Professor and Michel Boudart Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
Koffolt Lab Room 207
140 W 19th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210

Strategies for Catalytic Conversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Fuels and Chemicals

Environmental and political issues created by our dependence on fossil fuels, such as global warming and national security, combined with diminishing petroleum resources are causing society to search for new renewable sources of energy and chemicals, and an important sustainable source of organic fuels, chemicals and materials is plant biomass.  We will show how H2 and CO2 can be produced by aqueous-phase reforming of oxygenated hydrocarbons derived from carbohydrates at low temperatures (e.g., 500 K) over supported metal catalysts, and we will address how the aqueous-phase reforming process can be carried out over bimetallic catalysts (e.g, PtRe) to produce C5 and C6 mono-functional hydrocarbons, such as carboxylic acids, alcohols, and ketones.  We will show that the active sites on these bimetallic catalysts are bi-functional in nature, where the more reducible metal (Pt) catalyzes hydrogenation/dehydrogenation processes, and the more oxophilic metal (Re) provides hydroxyl groups that facilitate acid-catalyzed reactions.  We will then present strategies for the catalytic conversion of the C5 and C6 sugars present in hemi-cellulose and cellulose to furfural, furfuryl alcohol, levulinic acid, and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).


James A. Dumesic earned his B.S. degree from UW-Madison and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University, under the supervision of Professor Michel Boudart.  Dumesic joined the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1976, and he is currently the Steenbock Chair in the College of Engineering and the Michel Boudart Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering.  Throughout his career, Dumesic has used spectroscopic, microcalorimetric, and reaction kinetics techniques to study the surface and dynamic properties of heterogeneous catalysts.  Dumesic pioneered the field of microkinetic analysis, in which diverse information from experimental and theoretical studies is combined to elucidate the essential surface chemistry that controls catalyst performance.  He has recently studied how aqueous-phase reforming of biomass-derived carbohydrates can be tailored to selectively produce H2 or directed to produce liquid hydrocarbons.  Most recently, he has been studying the use of furan compounds, levulinic acid, and g-valerolactone as biomass-derived platform chemicals for the production of fuels and chemicals.

Dumesic has received a variety of awards and honors in the field of catalysis and chemical engineering.  In 1998, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  In 2006, he received the Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis from the American Chemical Society.  He was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009, and he was awarded the William H. Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for outstanding contributions to the chemical engineering literature.  In 2011 he received the Michel Boudart Award for advances in catalysis at the North American Catalysis Meeting and at the meeting of the European Federation of Catalysis Societies.  In 2012 he received the George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.