As fossil resources are depleting fast due to the increasing world population and associated energy
and chemicals demand, it is of strategic importance to search for renewable alternatives.
Lignocellulosic biomass is a promising renewable resource which can be converted into jet and
diesel fuels as well as chemicals via routes that include aldol condensation and hydrogenation
reactions. At present, at the industrial scale, aldol condensations are typically catalyzed by
homogeneous catalysts. However, in a pursuit of more sustainable chemical processes,
heterogeneous, i.e., solid, catalysts are desired. Additionally, hydrogenations are, typically,
catalyzed using materials containing precious metals which should be replaced with less expensive
This research proposal aims at revolutionizing the bio-refinery in general and the production of
renewable fuels and chemicals via aldol condensations and hydrogenations in particular. The
thermodynamic non-ideality of biomass based components will be elucidated which is essential for
the adequate description of processes involving these species. Zirconium carbonate and Ni based
catalysts will be investigated as potential alternative catalysts for aldol condensations and
hydrogenations, respectively. The reaction mechanisms will be elucidated using kinetic modelling
and a lab scale demonstration unit will be built. Finally, an intensified bio-refinery process scheme
will be drafted.