Effective Dispersion of MgO Nanostructure on Biochar Support as a Basic Catalyst for Glucose Isomerization

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Chen, Season
Cao, Yang
Tsang, Daniel
Shang, Jin
Hou, Deyi
Shen, Zhengtao
Zhang, Shicheng
Ok, Yong Sik
Wu, Kevin
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NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
Founded in 2008 with more than $44M in federal, industry, and Iowa State University funding, CBiRC works in tandem with Iowa and the nation’s growing biosciences sector. CBiRC’s goal is to lead the transformation of the chemical industry toward a future where chemicals derived from biomass resources will lead to the production of new bioproducts to meet evolving societal needs.
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Chemical and Biological Engineering

The function of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has been to prepare students for the study and application of chemistry in industry. This focus has included preparation for employment in various industries as well as the development, design, and operation of equipment and processes within industry.Through the CBE Department, Iowa State University is nationally recognized for its initiatives in bioinformatics, biomaterials, bioproducts, metabolic/tissue engineering, multiphase computational fluid dynamics, advanced polymeric materials and nanostructured materials.

The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1913 under the Department of Physics and Illuminating Engineering. From 1915 to 1931 it was jointly administered by the Divisions of Industrial Science and Engineering, and from 1931 onward it has been under the Division/College of Engineering. In 1928 it merged with Mining Engineering, and from 1973–1979 it merged with Nuclear Engineering. It became Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2005.

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  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1913–1928)
  • Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering (1928–1957)
  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1957–1973, 1979–2005)
    • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (2005–present)

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Glucose isomerization to fructose is one of the most important reactions in the field of biomass valorization. We demonstrate wood waste valorization with MgCl2 salt to synthesize an environment-friendly catalyst (i.e., MgO-biochar), which exhibits effective glucose-to-fructose isomerization with over 30% fructose yield and 80% selectivity at only 100 °C for 30 min in water as a green medium. This study highlights that one-step synthesis can effectively disperse and tether MgO nanostructures to the biochar matrix, which displays a significant reduction of Mg leaching compared to MgO-biochars produced by two-step synthesis and pure MgO. The MgCl2 acts as a porogen that facilitates the formation of a porous biochar structure and dispersion of nanostructured MgO. We identify key parameters of impregnation media (ethylene glycol, ethanol, and water) and pyrolysis conditions (600/750 °C in N2/CO2 atmosphere) that are responsible for adjusting the reactivity and stability of MgO, which enable the design of more effective and recyclable biochar catalysts. Weak interactions between MgCl2 and biomass in the presence of aqueous miscible organic solvents as shape-directing agents are accountable for fast leaching of Mg from the MgO-biochar surface. The FTIR spectra confirm the existence of various coordinations on the hydroxylated surfaces of MgO-biochar surfaces. The mesoporous structures of the biochar support enhance the stability of MgO moieties as revealed by BET, XRD, and Raman analyses. Given the benefits of effective MgO dispersion on the biochar support, we can reduce the amount of MgO active species involved in each reaction run, which mitigates over-reaction compared to pure MgO catalysts and achieves high fructose yield and selectivity for three consecutive cycles.


This document is the unedited Author’s version of a Submitted Work that was subsequently accepted for publication in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review. To access the final edited and published work see DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c00278. Posted with permission.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020