Christopher J. Barrett

Status: Graduated August, 2008 (Ph.D.)

Research Area: Renewable Liquid Fuels from Catalytic Reforming of Biomass-derived Oxygenated Hydrocarbons

Hometown: George Mills, NH

Undergraduate Studies: University of New Hampshire BS in Chemical Engineering and minor in Business Administration

Research Summary:

Science Paper Abstract:

Liquid alkanes with the number of carbon atoms ranging from C7 to C15 were selectively produced from biomass-derived carbohydrates by acid-catalyzed dehydration, which was followed by aldol condensation over solid base catalysts to form large organic compounds. These molecules were then converted into alkanes by dehydration/hydrogenation over bifunctional catalysts that contained acid and metal sites in a four-phase reactor, in which the aqueous organic reactant becomes more hydrophobic and a hexadecane alkane stream removes hydrophobic species from the catalyst before they go on further to form coke. These liquid alkanes are of the appropriate molecular weight to be used as transportation fuel components, and they contain 90% of the energy of the carbohydrate and H2 feeds.

Nature Paper Abstract:

Diminishing fossil fuel reserves and growing concerns about global warming indicate that sustainable sources of energy are needed in the near future. For fuels to be useful in the transportation sector, they must have specific phys. properties that allow for efficient distribution, storage and combustion; these properties are currently fulfilled by non-renewable petroleum-derived liquid fuels. Ethanol, the only renewable liquid fuel currently produced in large quantities, suffers from several limitations, including low energy density, high volatility, and contamination by the absorption of water from the atmosphere Here we present a catalytic strategy for the production. of 2,5-dimethylfuran from fructose (a carbohydrate obtained directly from biomass or by the isomerization of glucose) for use as a liquid transportation fuel. Compared to ethanol, 2,5-dimethylfuran has a higher energy d. (by 40 per cent), a higher b.p. (by 20 K), and is not soluble in water. This catalytic strategy creates a route for transforming abundant renewable biomass resources into a liquid fuel suitable for the transportation sector, and may diminish our reliance on petroleum.

. Publications:

Yuriy Roman-Leshkov, Christopher J. Barrett, Zhen Y. Liu, James A. Dumesic, "Production of Dimethylfuran for Liquid Fuels from Biomass-derived Carbohydrates", Nature 2007, 447(7147), 982-985.

Christopher J. Barrett, Juben N. Chheda, George W. Huber, and James A. Dumesic, "Single-Reactor Process for Sequential Aldol-Condensation and Hydrogenation of Biomass-Derived Compounds in Water", Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 2006, 66(1-2), 111-118.

George W. Huber, Juben N. Chheda, Christopher J. Barrett and James A. Dumesic, “ Production of Liquid Alkanes by Aqueous Phase Processing of Biomass-Derived Carbohydrates”, Science 2005, 308, 1446.

Technical, Environmental and Economic Feasibility of Bio-Oil in New Hampshire’s North Country (final Report to NH Industrial Research Center and presenation in AIChE topical sessions Nov. 2002.)