Researchers have developed a new method to convert squalene, which is produced by microalgae, to gasoline or jet fuel".
Researchers have developed a new method to convert squalene, which is produced by microalgae, to gasoline or jet fuel.
The study was part of a project by Japanese researchers that attempts to make use of oil-producing algae in wastewater treatment.
The new method developed by Professor Keiichi Tomishige and Dr Yoshinao Nakagawa from Tohoku University, and Dr Hideo Watanabe from the University of Tsukuba uses a catalyst with cerium oxide support and ruthenium metal particles.
The catalyst was prepared by mildly decomposing the ruthenium precursor at 300 degrees Celsius under inert atmosphere after impregnation.
This procedure led to sub-nanometre-sized ruthenium particles supported on cerium oxide.
Squalane was treated with this catalyst and hydrogen to produce smaller hydrocarbons.
The carbonu2013carbon bonds located between the methyl branches were selectively dissociated, and branched alkanes were produced without the loss of branches.
Branched hydrocarbons are good components for gasoline and jet fuel because of the high octane number, low freezing point and good stability.
The conventional catalyst, the combination of platinum and strong solid acid, produces a very complex mixture of products.
In this catalyst system, the deposition of carbonaceous solid on the catalyst is negligible, while it is often problematic in many catalytic reactions in petroleum refinery. The catalyst was reusable four times without loss of performance.
In the future, this catalytic conversion method can be applied to real wastewater samples and other important algal hydrocarbons, such as those from Botryococcus braunii, researchers said.
The study will be published in the journal ChemSusChem.