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Jakob Albert is currently Assistant Professor (Habilitand) and Head of the Research Group “Biomass and Sustainable Production of Platform Chemicals” at FAU’s Institute of Chemical Reaction Engineering (CRT). He holds a Diploma (2011) and a PhD degree (2014) from the FAU in Chemical Engineering.
We present a detailed kinetic study of the selective catalytic oxidation of different biogenic substrates to formic acid (OxFA process) using two different homogeneous polyoxometalate catalysts. By using high oxygen pressures (30–60 bar) and temperatures of 80–90°C in aqueous solution, we were able to investigate the rate-determining substrate oxidation step catalyzed by the oxidized form of the polyoxometalates (POMs) by keeping the concentration of the catalytic active species constant. Under these conditions, kinetic parameters like effective reaction order and reaction rate constants could be determined by the differential method for model substrates like glucose, fructose, sorbitol and gluconic acid. Finally, a detailed kinetic study for water-insoluble biomasses like beech and spruce wood showed differences in formic acid (FA) formation and product selectivities depending on the composition of the wood in terms of their ratios of lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose.