Transition metal carbides have been utilized as an alternative catalyst to expensive noble metals for the conversion of biomass. Tungsten and molybdenum carbides have been shown to be effective catalysts for hydrogenation, hydrodeoxygenation and isomerization reactions. The satisfactory activities of these metal carbides and their low costs, compared with noble metals, make them appealing alternatives and worthy of further investigation. In this review, we succinctly describe common synthesis techniques, including temperature-programmed reaction and carbothermal hydrogen reduction, utilized to prepare metal carbides used for biomass transformation. Attention will be focused, successively, on the application of transition metal carbide catalysts in the transformation of first-generation (oils) and second-generation (lignocellulose) biomass to biofuels and fine chemicals.
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