Gaining New Insight into Chemical Structure of Carbon-Based Catalysts
A large challenge in the development of heterogeneous catalysts for biomass conversion is the need for the catalysts in many instances to be stable in a high-temperature aqueous environment. Of particular interest are hydrothermally stable solid-acid catalysts. A number of research reports have extolled the potential of sulfonated-carbon materials for this application. Although interesting results have been reported (i.e., indications that carbonization of carbohydrates followed by sulfonation leads to solid-acid catalysts with good hydrothermal stability), the analytical techniques used to characterize these materials missed key carbon-structural information. The CBiRC researchers developed new solid-state NMR characterization protocols that provide this structural information.