London, June 17 (IANS) Japanese researchers have developed a new method of converting squalene, which is produced by microalgae, to gasoline and jet fuel.
The project attempts to make use of oil-producing algae in wastewater treatment as some algae produce more oil than terrestrial plants, so they are a promising source of oil.
This study is part of a research project titled ‘Next-generation energies for Tohoku recovery. Task 2: R&D on using algae biofuels.’
Squalane was treated with this catalyst and hydrogen at 60 atm and 240 degrees Celsius to produce smaller hydrocarbons.
Squalane — reacts with hydrogen over this catalyst, producing smaller hydrocarbons.
These branched hydrocarbons are good components for gasoline and jet fuels because of the high octane number, low freezing point and good stability.
This catalytic system makes good use of the squalene’s branched structure, while conventional methods are suitable to straight-chain molecules in petroleum.
The produced hydrocarbons are composed of only branched alkanes with simple distribution and do not contain toxic aromatics.
The results are due in the journal ChemSusChem.
Biofuels have attracted much attention because of the declining amount of fossil fuels around the world and the rise of global warming.