Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a selective catalyst that allows the creation of several basic chemicals from biomass rather than petroleum.

The catalyst was developed by Professor Kyoko Nozaki's research group at the Graduate School of Engineering. It will enable selective cleaving of carbon-oxygen single bonds in phenols and aryl methyl ethers, two of the main ingredients in lignin, a major component of dry plant matter.

Researchers say this has the potential to replace petroleum as the primary source of basic aromatic chemicals like phenol and BTX (benzene, toluene and xylene.)

"This study shows the potential of our catalysts for application to the mass use of lignin as feedstock for production of basic aromatic chemicals for the chemical industry, instead of using fossil fuels," says Prof. Nozaki.

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