Biofuels Production projects
Heterogeneous Catalysis to Create C-C Bonds in Mixtures of C2-C4 Oxygenates
We propose to study a series of catalytic chemistries that can transform ethanol into higher carbon number aromatics with high overall carbon selectivity. The utility of bioethanol and ABE as fuels are increased by catalytic upgrading into hydrocarbon and oxygenate liquids with greater energy densities. Alternately, bioethanol could be used to produce valuable platform chemicals. The need is for catalytic pathways that efficiently upgrade the short-chain oxygenates into replacements for chemicals and fuels derived from fossil sources. This will diversify the capabilities of the EBI.
Recent breakthroughs in the efficiency of fermentation processes have improved the efficiency of converting lignocellulosic material into short chain oxygenates and have renewed interest in upgrading bioethanol. Therefore, we are studying heterogeneous catalytic systems that transform bioethanol into higher carbon number species, specifically, into transportation fuels and possibly lubricants, which have higher values per unit mass. Our approach involves the use of simultaneous dehydrogenation and aldol addition reactions catalyzed on metals and metal oxide surfaces, respectively, to couple ethanol into targeted larger alcohols with narrow product distributions.