Hydrocarbon Fuels from Biomass: Catalysis as Important as Ever!

2010 Spring Symposium

George J. Antos
Director, Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program
Directorate for Engineering
National Science Foundation

Abstract – Catalysis played an important role in the development of the petroleum-derived fuel industry into the key part of the worldwide industrial picture that it is today. For various strategic reasons, a new fuel platform based on biomass is desired to supplement and replace the petroleum of today. Corn-derived ethanol from fermentation was the first movement. Additional technology is seen to be necessary however. Where can we seek the tools necessary to achieve ambitious petroleum-replacement goals? Recent advances in catalysis and biocatalysis hold great promise for new pathways to the mass production of next generation hydrocarbon biofuels: green gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from switchgrass, forest waste, and agricultural residue. The potential advantages of hydrocarbon production from lignocellulosic feedstocks will be discussed, and the newest process pathways and catalysis impacts will be outlined. Commercialization efforts will be discussed. Yet gaps in knowledge still exist. Federal funding opportunities in hydrocarbon biofuels will be touched on.

Speaker’s Biography – Dr. George J. Antos is currently the Director of the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program in the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation. This program receives 150-200 proposals for university research funding in fundamental catalysis, biocatalysis, biomass conversion, electrocatalysis and photocatalysis each year with millions of dollars awarded annually. George joined NSF after a 33+ year career in industry with UOP LLC. This experience encompassed the research, development and commercialization of process, catalyst and material technologies for the petroleum refining and petrochemical industries. George has authored and co-authored over 160 US patents, and has develped a large number of presentations and papers in the area. George is also an Adjunct Professor with the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is CEO of Catalyst Realizations, Inc., a consulting company. His education includes a B.S. in Chemistry from Iowa State University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from Northwestern University.