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UK-USA Collaborative Project In Renewable Fuels

24 October 2012

Dr Karen Wilson has been awarded a major grant under the NSF-EPSRC International Collaboration in Chemistry programme to work on catalytic conversion of biomass to fuels with Prof Friederike Jentoft of the Center for Biomass Refining at the University of Oklahoma. Second generation bio-fuels derived from waste or non-food biomass sources are currently at a pre-commercial phase, and if they are to meet targets for implementation by 2015-2020 significant technical hurdles to the chemical transformation of biomass need to be overcome. This project 'Tuning Catalyst Surfaces to Control Aldol Reactions in Biomass Conversion' will explore the development of new catalyst technology with tailored active sites designed to operate under the demanding conditions experienced during biomass-to-fuels processes. Aldol condensation is one of the key chemical transformations involved in the conversion of the initial products of biomass processing into sustainable fuels (and indeed chemicals), enabling carbon chain length to be tailored. The proposed research will provide the fundamental insight that is necessary to tailor materials that catalyse this transformation with great efficiency. The program will also provide cutting-edge, cross-disciplinary scientific and technical training for US and Cardiff researchers within the Cardiff Catalysis Institute and Sarkeys Energy Center via exchange activities.