Scalable and Tunable Carbide-Phosphide Composite Catalyst System for the Thermochemical Conversion of Biomass
Regmi, Y. N., B. R. Rogers, N. Labbe, and S. C. Chmely.  2017.  ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

We have prepared composite materials of hexagonal nickel phosphide and molybdenum carbide (Mo2C) utilizing a simple and scalable two-stage synthesis method comprised of carbothermic reduction followed by hydrothermal incubation. We observe the monophasic hexagonal phosphide Ni2P in the composite at low phosphide-to-carbide (P:C) ratios. Upon increasing the proportion of P:C, the carbide surface becomes saturated, and we detect the emergence of a second hexagonal nickel phosphide phase (Ni5P4) upon annealing. We demonstrate that vapor-phase upgrading (VPU) of whole biomass via catalytic fast pyrolysis is achievable using the composite material as a catalyst, and we monitor the resulting product slates using pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Our analysis of the product vapors indicates that variation of the P:C molar ratio in the composite material affords product slates of varying complexity and composition, which is indicated by the number of products and their relative proportions in the product slate. Our results demonstrate that targeted vapor product composition can be obtained, which can potentially be utilized to tune the composition of the bio-oil downstream.