CRITICAL FLUIDS FOR PROCESSING AGRIMATERIALS
Project Number: 3620-41000-128-00
Start Date: May 14, 2007
End Date: Aug 15, 2010
The primary goal of this project is to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of using critical fluids and heterogeneous catalysts to extract and process agrimaterials into value-added products. The long-term objective of this project is to develop new chemical processes to produce high-value products from plant materials. Over the next three years, we will focus on the following objectives:
Objective 1: Develop methods for the conversion of agrimaterials to platform chemicals. There are two aspects to this objective: a) the oxidation of seed oils to platform chemicals such as diacids and hydroxyacids; and b) the design and development of better catalysts for regioselective transformations, including the selective addition of aromatics to the double bond of unsaturated fatty acids.
Objective 2: Develop commercially viable processes based on critical fluids to convert ligno-cellulosic materials to fermentable sugars as well as convert vegetable oils to high-value products. There are two sub-objectives to this objective: a) develop commercially viable processes based on critical fluids such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water and/or ethanol to pretreat ligno-cellulosic biomass prior to its conversion via enzymatic hydrolysis to fermentable sugars; and b) use CO2-based critical fluids to improve the commercial viability of processes for enzymatically converting vegetable oils to high-value products such as feruloylated monoacyl- and diacylglycerides. Critical fluid processes will be evaluated for enhancement of these conversions and integration with downstream recovery processes for these high-value products.
New polyoxometalate catalysts will be synthesized, characterized and used to oxidatively cleave double bonds in oleic and petroselinic acids to form platform chemicals. This research will also evaluate critical fluid processes for the conversion of vegetable oils to high-value products, and critical fluid pretreatments for converting ligno-cellulosic biomass to fermentable sugars.