New uses for diesel by-products

January 25, 2012
New uses for diesel by-products

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new catalytic process discovered by the Cardiff Catalysis Institute could unleash a range of useful new by-products from diesel fuel production.

More sustainable production of sulphur-free diesel from natural gas and biomass is increasing. However the by-products, hydrocarbons like decane and other low value alkanes have little practical use.

Now a discovery by the Institute, part of the School of Chemistry, has found a potential route for upgrading these by-products into more useful chemicals.

In the past, synthetic reactions starting from alkanes like decane have been fraught with difficulty. They tend either to over-dehydrogenate or to combust, depending on whether oxygen is present in the reaction. Now a Cardiff Institute team has reported the use of a mixed-metal catalyst to convert decane to a range of oxygenated aromatics.

The breakthrough, published in Nature Chemistry, came when the team fed a of decane and air through an iron molybdate catalyst. At higher temperatures, the reaction formed water and decene, which is used in the production of detergents. At lower temperatures, however, the reaction took a different route to create oxygenated . These included phthalic anhydride, used in the dyeing industry, and which helps in the production of anti-coagulant drugs.

Professor Stan Golunski, a member of the Institute team behind the discovery said: "This discovery breaks new ground as it implies the involvement of oxygen that has not yet made the full transition from its molecular form to its ionic form. This overturns a widely-held view that this type of oxygen was too reactive to form anything other than carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in reactions with hydrocarbons."

"While the increased production of sulphur-free diesel has been a positive move, the glut of low value by-products will become a problem. We hope our new process will lead to less waste and the creation of more useful chemicals for a range of industries."

Explore further: Biomass as a source of raw materials

Related Stories

Biomass as a source of raw materials

May 12, 2009

For the protection of the environment, and because of the limited amount of fossil fuels available, renewable resources, such as specially cultivated plants, wood scraps, and other plant waste, are becoming the focus of considerable ...

Recommended for you

New method developed for producing some metals

August 25, 2016

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony—and ...

Electron microscopy reveals how vitamin A enters the cell

August 25, 2016

Using a new, lightning-fast camera paired with an electron microscope, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) scientists have captured images of one of the smallest proteins in our cells to be "seen" with a microscope.

Hitching a ride: Misfiring drugs hit the wrong targets

August 25, 2016

It probably isn't surprising to read that pharmaceutical drugs don't always do what they're supposed to. Adverse side effects are a well-known phenomenon and something many of us will have experienced when taking medicines.

Using light to control genome editing

August 25, 2016

The genome-editing system known as CRISPR allows scientists to delete or replace any target gene in a living cell. MIT researchers have now added an extra layer of control over when and where this gene editing occurs, by ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.