Engineered rice-straw biochar catalysts for the production of value-added chemicals from furan

Younghyun LEE, Sung Woo LEE, Yiu Fai TSANG, Yong Tae KIM, Jechan LEE

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38 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, biochars produced in two different atmospheres were used as catalysts for the valorization of furan, which derives from the hemicellulosic component of waste biomass. The biochars were produced from rice straw via pyrolysis in either an N₂ or a CO₂ environment (RSB-N₂ or RSB-CO₂) to modify their surface area and porosity. The biochars were then employed as a catalyst to support a bifunctional Ru–ReOₓ catalyst. The biochar-supported Ru–ReOₓ catalysts (Ru–ReOₓ/RSB) were compared to a conventional activated charcoal (AC)-supported Ru–ReOₓ catalyst (Ru–ReOₓ/AC). The biochar-supported catalysts exhibited differences in reducibility and contained a different form of Re species compared to the AC-supported catalyst, which was attributed to the presence of alkali metal (e.g., potassium) in the biochar catalysts. The reducibility and metal dispersion on the support were also strongly associated with the atmosphere under which the biochar was produced. In particular, the Ru–ReOₓ/RSB-CO₂ catalyst consumed 24% more hydrogen than did the Ru–ReOₓ/RSB-N₂ catalyst within a temperature range of 250 to 560 °C. The biochar-supported catalysts had 12 times fewer surface metal sites than did the AC-supported catalyst due to their lower surface area. The reaction rate on a per-site basis for the conversion of furan to tetrahydrofuran and 1,4-butanediol was also measured for the catalysts. The Ru–ReOₓ/RSB-N₂ catalyst was twice as active as the Ru–ReOₓ/RSB-CO₂ catalyst and three times more active than the Ru–ReOₓ/AC catalyst. This study thus proposes a straightforward strategy for modifying the catalytic properties of biochar catalysts and suggests a new application of biochar in the production of value-added chemicals from biomass and waste. The results also highlight the potential of biochar as a replacement for conventional catalysts in biorefineries. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124194
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online dateJan 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


Lee, Y., Lee, S. W., Tsang, Y. F., Kim, Y. T., & Lee, J. (2020). Engineered rice-straw biochar catalysts for the production of value-added chemicals from furan. Chemical Engineering Journal, 387. Retrieved from


  • Engineered biochar
  • Biomass valorization
  • Environmental material
  • Green chemistry
  • Biorefinery


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