Biofuel from Biomass New Synthetic Pathway for Biofuel Production Achieves Higher Yields

Editor: Ahlam Rais

A Sino-German research team has found a new synthetic pathway to produce biofuel from biomass. Compared to previous methods, they achieved higher yield and selectivity under milder reaction conditions.

Related Companies

The Bochum Catalysis Team: Baoxiang Peng (left) and Martin Muhler.
The Bochum Catalysis Team: Baoxiang Peng (left) and Martin Muhler.
(Source: RUB/ Rohlf)

Bochum/Germany – In a new synthetic pathway for biofuel, chemists converted the biomass-derived substance 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) into 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF), which could be suitable as a biofuel. The team led by Dr. Baoxiang Peng and Prof. Dr. Martin Muhler from the Chair of Technical Chemistry at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) and the group led by Prof. Dr. Christof Hättig from the RUB Chair of Theoretical Chemistry describe the method together with colleagues from Changzhou, China, in the journal 'Angewandte Chemie'.

According to Peng, DMF would make a good biofuel because it has a higher-octane number than ethanol, a better energy intensity and an ideal boiling point of 92 to 94 °C. Although the conversion of HMF into DMF is being intensively researched, there are some hurdles. For example, DMF production requires relatively harsh reaction conditions, such as high hydrogen pressure, and often little of the desired product is produced while undesirable by-products are formed. Researchers are therefore looking for ways to allow the reaction to proceed efficiently under milder conditions. This was achieved in the current work.

Formic Acid as the Key to Success

The team let the reaction take place in the presence of formic acid and hydrogen. The chemists used palladium nanoparticles as a catalyst. They thus achieved five times higher reaction rates than with previous methods. The addition of formic acid in particular played a decisive role in creating favorable reaction conditions, as the researchers showed in detailed investigations.

They carried out the reaction with different additives and compared the turnovers and selectivity that were best in the presence of formic acid. The substance favors a faster reaction pathway while preventing unwanted intermediates from occurring.

Original publication: Bin Hu et al.: Formic acid-assisted selective hydrogenolysis of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-dimethylfuran over bifunctional Pd nanoparticles supported on N-doped mesoporous carbon, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021,DOI: 10.1002/anie.202012816

Bin Hu et al: Formic acid-assisted selective hydrogenolysis of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-dimethylfuran via bifunctional Pd nanoparticles supported on N-doped mesoporous carbon, Angewandte Chemie, 2021, DOI: 10.1002/ange.202012816

(ID:47132697)