Mechanism-Driven Discovery of Biopolymer Upgrading
The overarching goal underpinning the next phase of this work is to develop fundamental mechanistic studies into a blueprint for the extraction of sustainable chemicals from plants. This will focus on the discovery of enzymatic, heterogeneous, and homogeneous catalysts to selectively activate lignocellulosic biomass (lignin, hemicellulose, and cellulose). Our research first focuses on designing mechanism-driven catalysts for more selective and functionalized structures through biomass upgrading. A graph neural network development will be added to predict the energetics of homolytic bond cleavage in biomass, by training against QM studies of model compounds. This will enable automated mechanistic exploration of possible routes for thermochemical conversion of biomass using realistic models for the first time.