Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) faculty member Jean-Philippe Tessonnier has been awarded research funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Catalysis program. The program is part of the NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems.
Tessonnier’s project is entitled “Tailored Carbon-Supported Catalysis for the Conversion of Biomass in the Condensed Phase.” The award is a three-year, $300,000 grant, with Tessonnier as the principal investigator.
The basis of the project is that biomass, produced from agricultural waste and non-edible plants, offers an abundant, cheap, and renewable source of chemical raw materials that can be upgraded to a wide range of chemical products. However, the complexity of the biomass-derived raw materials necessitates finely tuned catalysts that can attack specific chemical bonds within multifunctional bio-based feedstock compounds. In this study, catalysts consisting of noble metals dispersed on carbon supports will be tuned to produce desired chemicals, with emphasis on engineering the carbon materials in ways that direct the chemistry towards the targeted chemical products.
The science and engineering generated by the study will promote the production of chemicals from renewable feedstocks, thereby decreasing dependence on fossil resources, reducing global carbon footprint, stimulating and diversifying rural economies, and promoting a range of educational opportunities.