2014 Science paper featuring 2 ChemE Alumni, PhD '12 Jeremy Luterbacher and BS ChE '00 Brian Pfleger
The article was recently selected by "This Week in Science" as an Editor's pick.
Science 17 January 2014:
Vol. 343 no. 6168 pp. 277-280
Nonenzymatic Sugar Production from Biomass Using Biomass-Derived ?-Valerolactone
Jeremy S. Luterbacher, Jacqueline M. Rand, David Martin Alonso, Jeehoon Han, J. Tyler Youngquist, Christos T. Maravelias, Brian F. Pfleger, James A. Dumesic*
In order to transform cellulose-containing biomass into liquid fuels such as ethanol, it is first necessary to break down the cellulose into its constituent sugars. Efforts toward this end have focused on chemical protocols using concentrated acid or ionic liquid solvents, and on biochemical protocols using cellulase enzymes. Luterbacher et al. now show that ?-valerolactone, a small molecule solvent that can itself be sourced renewably from biomass, promotes efficient and selective thermal breakdown of cellulose in the presence of dilute aqueous acid.