Date of Award

Fall 12-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Thomas J. Schwartz

Second Committee Member

Carl. P. Tripp

Third Committee Member

Brian G. Frederick

Additional Committee Members

Alice E. Bruce

G. Peter van Walsum


This study highlights our recent progress in developing new chemistries and processes for upgrading biomass-derived molecules and addresses the challenges associated with catalytic conversion processes. The first study focuses on using a combination of chemical and biological processing to produce long-chain linear and branched ketones with low oxygen content. A mixture of medium-chain-length carboxylic acids was obtained by anaerobic fermentation of lignocellulosic biomass, and this mixture was further oligomerized using heterogeneous chemical catalysis. The products fall in the range of C10–C20 molecules that can potentially be blended with existing hydrocarbon jet fuels. The second study extends the catalyst preparation and characterization study to suggest further possible heterogeneous catalysts suitable for desired carbon-carbon bond formation reactions. The last study proposes a new pathway to synthesize 3- hydroxy-γ-butyrolactone (HBL), a high-value pharmaceutical precursor for statin drugs, from glucose via a combination of enzymatic and chemical catalytic steps. First, in the enzymatic transformation step, glucose is oxidized to trione. This step is followed by converting trione to a mixture of glycolate esters (GE) and 3,4-dihydroxybutyrate (DHB) using a basic catalyst. Subsequently, in an acidic environment, DHB is converted to HBL