Ananda Amarasekara

Professor
Ph.D., City University of New York

Contact information:

Room: 230F NSB
Department of Chemistry
Prairie View A&M University
MS 2215
P.O. Box 519
Prairie View, Texas 77446

Phone: 936-261-3107
Fax: 936-261-3117
E-mail:asamarasekara@pvamu.edu

Areas of interest

  • Biomass based fuels and feedstock chemicals for polymer industry
  • Catalysis
  • Ionic liquids

Current Activities

  • We are currently studying the dissolution and hydrolysis of cellulose and lignocellulosic biomass in Brönsted acidic ionic liquids for the production of fuel ethanol from non-food biomass resources. In 2009 our research group introduced the use of sulfonic acid group functionalized Brönsted acidic ionic liquids for concurrent dissolution and hydrolysis of cellulose under mild conditions. In these experiments cellulose (DP ~ 450) was found to dissolve up to 20% w/w in 1- (1-propylsulfonic)-3-methylimidazolium chloride, and could be hydrolyzed into glucose at 70 °C and atmospheric pressure in excellent yields. Sulfonic acid and metal ion catalyzed degradation of lignocellulosic biomass such as switch grass, and corn stover in aqueous medium at moderate temperature, and pressure is another area of interest. Which involves the use of aryl/alkyl sulfonic acid based catalysts as well as transition metal catalysts for the depolymerization of cellulose and hemicelluloses to fermentable sugars. Furthermore, we are interested in selective dehydration of abundant carbohydrates to produce furan derivatives such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural. Oxidation of HMF using green-chemistry technologies is another area of study, and this involves the development of catalysts for economical and environmentally friendly oxidation methods for the preparation of furan-dialdehyde and furan-dicarboxylic acid from HMF.
  • Secondly our group is involved in the development of next generation polymeric materials from renewable resources based monomers. We are currently studying the synthesis and characterization of novel polymers based on lignocellulosic biomass derived monomers such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) derivatives, furfural, levulinic acid, succinic acid, sebacic acid, azelaic acid, glycerol, and vanillin derivatives.

 

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