Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Monofunctional Hydrocarbons and Targeted Liquid-Fuel Classes

Science  17 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5900, pp. 417-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.1159210

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It is imperative to develop more efficient processes for conversion of biomass to liquid fuels, such that the cost of these fuels would be competitive with the cost of fuels derived from petroleum. We report a catalytic approach for the conversion of carbohydrates to specific classes of hydrocarbons for use as liquid transportation fuels, based on the integration of several flow reactors operated in a cascade mode, where the effluent from the one reactor is simply fed to the next reactor. This approach can be tuned for production of branched hydrocarbons and aromatic compounds in gasoline, or longer-chain, less highly branched hydrocarbons in diesel and jet fuels. The liquid organic effluent from the first flow reactor contains monofunctional compounds, such as alcohols, ketones, carboxylic acids, and heterocycles, that can also be used to provide reactive intermediates for fine chemicals and polymers markets.

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