Solid catalysts with unique porosity and nanoscale properties play a promising role for efficient valorization of biomass into sustainable advanced fuels and chemicals.
Heterogeneous catalysis is a promising technology for the valorization of renewable biomass to sustainable advanced fuels and fine chemicals. Porosity and nanostructure are the most versatile features of heterogeneous solid catalysts, which can greatly determine the accessibility of specific active sites, reaction mechanisms, and the selectivity of desirable products. Hence, the precise tuning of porosity and nanostructure has been a potential strategy towards developing novel solid catalysts with indispensable characteristics for efficient biomass valorization. Herein, we present a timely and comprehensive review of the recent advances in catalytic biomass conversions over microporous zeolites, mesoporous silicas, and nanostructured metals/metal oxides. This review covers the catalytic processing of both edible (lipids and starch) and non-edible (lignocellulose) biomass as well as their derived compounds, along with a systematic evaluation of catalyst reusability/kinetic/mechanistic aspects in the relevant processes. The key parameters essential for tailoring particle size, morphology, porosity, acid–base, and redox properties of solid catalysts are emphasized, while discussing the ensuing catalytic effects towards the selective conversion of biomass into desirable chemicals. Special attention has been drawn to understand the role of water in liquid phase biomass conversions as well as the hydrothermal stability and the deactivation of nanoporous catalysts. We believe this comprehensive review will provide new insights towards developing state-of-the-art solid catalysts with well-defined porosity and nanoscale properties for viable biomass conversion.