The catalytic oxidation of biomass to new materials focusing on starch, cellulose and lignin

Collinson, S. R. and Thielemans, W. (2010). The catalytic oxidation of biomass to new materials focusing on starch, cellulose and lignin. Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 254(15-16) pp. 1854–1870.



Biomass is a renewable class of materials of growing interest amongst researchers aiming to achieve global sustainability. This review focuses on the homogeneous catalysis of the oxidation of biomass, in particular starch, cellulose and lignin. Often such catalytic reactions lead to depolymerisation of the material as happens in Nature with for example brown rot fungi. This depolymerisation can be desirable or not, and control in industrial applications is thus important to obtain the desired outcome. The two main oxidants in use are O2 and H2O2 and their use is described as appropriate. Industrial oxidation catalysis is highly significant in the bleaching of cellulose-containing materials due to its high volume application in the paper, pulp and laundry industries. Here, the presence of a ligand on the oxidising metal ion has a significant effect on the catalyst selectivity and stability. In addition to the bleaching of cellulose-containing materials, the oxidation of cellulose, starch, lignin and lignin model compounds are discussed with a focus on generating even more hydrophilic materials which have important applications or materials which may be further modified. Finally developing applications of biomass are described such as new support materials for catalysts, as supports for sensors and nanomaterials for microbial culture.

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