Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High-yield path to making key ingredient for plastic, xylene, from biomass

Date:
April 30, 2012
Source:
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Summary:
Chemical engineers have discovered a new, high-yield method of making the key ingredient used to make plastic bottles from biomass. The process currently creates the chemical p-xylene with an efficient yield of 75-percent.

The new process uses a zeolite catalyst capable of transforming glucose into p-xylene in a three-step reaction within a high-temperature biomass reactor.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts Amherst

A team of chemical engineers led by Paul J. Dauenhauer of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a new, high-yield method of producing the key ingredient used to make plastic bottles from biomass. The process is inexpensive and currently creates the chemical p-xylene with an efficient yield of 75-percent, using most of the biomass feedstock, Dauenhauer says.

Related Articles


The research is published in the journal ACS Catalysis.

Dauenhauer, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at UMass Amherst, says the new discovery shows that there is an efficient, renewable way to produce a chemical that has immediate and recognizable use for consumers. He says the plastics industry currently produces p-xylene from petroleum and that the new renewable process creates exactly the same chemical from biomass.

'You can mix our renewable chemical with the petroleum-based material and the consumer would not be able to tell the difference," Dauenhauer says.

Consumers will already know the plastics made from this new process by the triangular recycling label "#1" on plastic containers. Xylene chemicals are used to produce a plastic called PET (or polyethylene terephthalate), which is currently used in many products including soda bottles, food packaging, synthetic fibers for clothing and even automotive parts.

The new process uses a zeolite catalyst capable of transforming glucose into p-xylene in a three-step reaction within a high-temperature biomass reactor. Dauenhauer says this is a major breakthrough since other methods of producing renewable p-xylene are either expensive (e.g., fermentation) or are inefficient due to low yields.

A key to the success of this new process is the use of a catalyst that is specifically designed to promote the p-xylene reaction over other less desirable reactions. Dauenhauer says his research colleagues, professors Wei Fan of UMass Amherst and Raul Lobo of the University of Delaware, designed the catalyst. After a series of modifications, the team was able to help enhance the yield of the reaction. He also says additional modification of the process can further boost p-xylene yield and make the process more economically attractive.

"We discovered that the performance of the biomass reaction was strongly affected by the nanostructure of the catalyst, which we were able to optimize and achieve 75-percent yield," Fan says. Computations conducted by the team have been instrumental in understanding the reaction mechanism and the role of the catalyst as well as making alteration to the catalyst to improve the yield of the process.

Besides Dauenhauer and Fan, the research team is made up of UMass Amherst's C. Luke Williams and Chun-Chih Chang, doctoral students in chemical engineering, and their collaborators, professors Raul F. Lobo, Dionisios G. Vlachos and Stavros Caratzoulas, as well as doctoral student Nima Nikbin, and postdoctoral fellow Phuong Do from the University of Delaware.

This discovery is a part of a larger effort by the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation (CCEI) to create breakthrough technologies for the production of biofuels and chemicals from lignocellulosic biomass. The center is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the Energy Frontiers Research Center (EFRC) program which combines more than 20 faculty members with complimentary research skills to collaborate on solving the world's most pressing energy challenges.

The discovery for the production of plastics adds another dimension to the portfolio of accomplishments of CCEI. In 2010, a CCEI research team led by Mark Davis of Caltech discovered a new catalyst, called Tin-Beta, which can convert glucose into fructose. This is the first step in the production of a large number of targeted products including biofuels and biochemicals, including p-xylene, from the building block of cellulose, the major constituent of trees and switchgrass.

In addition, a team led by Ray Gorte and John Vohs at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a novel fuel cells technology that converts solid biomass to electricity and another led by George Huber and Wei Fan of UMass Amherst has improved the yield to aromatics that can be used as drop-in fuels to gasoline.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Luke Williams, Chun-Chih Chang, Phuong Do, Nima Nikbin, Stavros Caratzoulas, Dionisios G. Vlachos, Raul F. Lobo, Wei Fan, Paul J. Dauenhauer. Cycloaddition of Biomass-Derived Furans for Catalytic Production of Renewablep-Xylene. ACS Catalysis, 2012; 935 DOI: 10.1021/cs300011a

Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts Amherst. "High-yield path to making key ingredient for plastic, xylene, from biomass." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430164229.htm>.
University of Massachusetts Amherst. (2012, April 30). High-yield path to making key ingredient for plastic, xylene, from biomass. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430164229.htm
University of Massachusetts Amherst. "High-yield path to making key ingredient for plastic, xylene, from biomass." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120430164229.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins