Catalysis for biomass and CO2 use through solar energy: opening new scenarios for a sustainable and low-carbon chemical production
The use of biomass, bio-waste and CO2 derived raw materials, the latter synthesized using H2 produced using renewable energy sources, opens new scenarios to develop a sustainable and low carbon chemical production, particularly in regions such as Europe lacking in other resources. This tutorial review discusses first this new scenario with the aim to point out, between the different possible options, those more relevant to enable this new future scenario for the chemical production, commenting in particular the different drivers (economic, technological and strategic, environmental and sustainability and socio-political) which guide the selection. The case of the use of non-fossil fuel based raw materials for the sustainable production of light olefins is discussed in more detail, but the production of other olefins and polyolefins, of drop-in intermediates and other platform molecules are also analysed. The final part discusses the role of catalysis in establishing this new scenario, summarizing the development of catalysts with respect to industrial targets, for (i) the production of light olefins by catalytic dehydration of ethanol and by CO2 conversion via FTO process, (ii) the catalytic synthesis of butadiene from ethanol, butanol and butanediols, and (iii) the catalytic synthesis of HMF and its conversion to 2,5-FDCA, adipic acid, caprolactam and 1,6-hexanediol.