87% Yield of Diesel Hydrocarbons from Biomass-Derived Precursors
A team from Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain) reports in the journal ChemSusChem on a process that uses platform molecules derived from hexoses (5-methylfurfural) and from pentoses (2-methylfuran, or Sylvan) from lignocellulosic biomass to produce a high quality diesel. _GCC
The team, led by Dr. Avelino Corma, had reported earlier this year on a new simple, energy-efficient process (that also does not require any organic solvents) for the production of renewable diesel from biomass waste. (Earlier post.)Of course they have to extract the precursors from the biomass first, before they can feed them into their two-step process. But in a free market environment, those lignocellulosic products would be sold on the open market as commodities, so that industrial plants at any scale could convert them into either fuels, high value chemicals, or plastics and other materials.
That process converts 2-methylfuran (2MF) into into diesel-range hydrocarbons through two consecutive catalytic steps that involve hydroxyalkylation/alkylation and hydrodeoxygenation, with an overall yield of 87%.
Lignocellulosic biomass contains both six-carbon (hexoses) and five-carbon (pentoses) sugars; the new process synthesizes diesel precursors from each, and then uses a catalytic hydrodeoxygenation process to produce the renewable diesel.
The resulting diesel can be blended in any ratio with commercial diesel, and has a high cetane number and good flow properties. _GCC
It is easy to see that this type of diesel product should prove superior to standard esterified biodiesels, in terms of cold weather performance and better blending with petro-diesel. The economics of this process will evolve and improve as the overall market for biomass and biomass materials develops.