The critical role of heterogeneous catalysis in lignocellulosic biomass conversion
Lignocellulosic biofuels have a tremendous potential to reduce problems caused by our dependence on fossil fuels. The current roadblock with biofuels is the lack of economical conversion technologies. Heterogeneous catalysis offers immense potential in helping to make lignocellulosic biofuels a commercial reality. In this article we discuss the central role of heterogeneous catalysis in biomass conversion. We review the science of catalysis and the different routes to make biofuels. During the last several decades multiple new spectroscopic, theoretical, and synthesis tools are available that allow us to study catalysis at a molecular level. These new tools will allow us to rapidly develop new catalytic processes for the production of cost-efficient lignocellulosic biofuels.