We are developing organometallic compounds to act as catalysts for conversion of biomass and biorenewable materials. Generally, the compounds, materials, and catalysts used for conversion of reduced petroleum feedstocks are not appropriate for the highly oxygenated biologically-derived materials. Instead, water soluble, moderately reduced metal centers are needed for alcohol, ester, ether and carboxylate activation. We are synthesizing new ligands and new metal compounds, testing their reactivity with biologically-derived materials, and studying the mechanisms of stoichiometric and catalytic conversions.
Mentor: Aaron Sadow, Scientist, Ames Laboratory and Associate Professor, Iowa State University