Biomass Depolymerization projects

Enzyme-Inspired Catalysts For Enhancing Biofuels Production

Lignocellulosic biomass processing is fundamentally limited by the availability of low-cost processing methods for depolymerization and hydrolysis. This project uses rational design of catalytic materials to develop materials to facilitate the chemoselective conversion of biomass into fuel. Because dissolved cellulose is an imperative precursor in biofuel production, the lab is also developing cost-effective processing dissolution schemes. The novel strategies the group is employing hold promise as complementary methods to biological treatment of biomass.

project Highlights

2011 Highlights

Katz’s lab demonstrated that hydrolysis of glycosidic bonds under extraordinarily mild conditions of pH 4 is possible via activation using silanols (defect sites on silica) as weak acid sites. This shows that a thin film of poly-b-glucans on solid acidic surfaces can result in greatly enhanced hydrolysis activity. This principle is currently being used by the Katz group in ongoing EBI research for biomass depolymerization. Katz’s group has also launched a comprehensive project aimed at using carbon-based materials for enhancing the depolymerization of biomass.

2010 Highlights

Katz’s lab has discovered new methods to hydrolyze glycosidic bonds at mild conditions (pH 4).  These methods rely on using defect sites (silanols) on silica as well as simple metal phosphate salts. The group is currently optimizing these approaches and developing an understanding of the mechanism.

2009 Highlights

Researchers developed methods to synthesize their targeted cellulose composite materials. These materials are a first of their kind in terms of composition of matter. Preliminary data demonstrates that the reactivity of cellulose on these surfaces is significantly different from that of unanchored cellulose.



Published in 2012

Dialkylimidazolium Ionic Liquids Hydrolyze Cellulose Under Mild Conditions, Oz Gazit, Alexander Katz, ChemSUSChem, doi: 10.1002/cssc.201100803, April 30, 2012.


Chemisorption and Dehydration of Ethanol on Silica: Effect of Temperature on Selectivity, Tatiana Luts, Alexander Katz, Topics in Catalysis, doi: 10.1007/s11244-012-9771-9, February 14, 2012.

Published in 2011

Grafted Poly(1→4-β-glucan) Strands on Silica: A Comparative Study of Surface Reactivity as a Function of Grafting Density, Oz Gazit, Alexander Katz, Langmuir (ACS), doi: 10.1021/la2036482, November 14, 2011.

Published in 2010

Unexpected Phosphate Salt-Catalyzed Hydrolysis of Glycosidic Bonds in Model Disaccharides: Cellobiase and Maltose, Alexandre Charmot and Alex Katz, Journal of Cataysis, DOI: 10.1016j.jcat2010.08.006, September 16, 2010.



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