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IIT-H develops catalyst that may convert biomass into jet fuel


Press Trust of India Hyderabad
Researchers at IIT Hyderabad have developed a simple and innovative method to synthesise a catalyst that can convert chemicals derived from biomass into a precursor to diesel and jet fuel, the institute said on Tuesday.
The catalyst showed better efficiency and selectivity than commercial catalysts to produce the desired C15 oxygenated hydrocarbon, a biofuel precursor, researchers said in a statement.
In the journal ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, researchers described a novel process that can produce carbon catalysts at room temperatures using sugar, sulphuric acid and salt.
"The dehydration of sugar by concentrated sulphuric acid is high-school chemistry," said Atul Suresh Deshpande, Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad.
"This reaction is highly exothermic, that means, intense heat is released during the reaction spontaneously, which helps in turning sugar into carbon without external heating," Deshpande said.
"But this process is not well controlled and the resultant carbon does not have uniform micro-structure and catalytic prowess," he said.
"Due to the low-cost of precursors with practically zero energy input and simplicity of reaction, this process of producing carbon nanoplates can be easily adapted for large-scale commercial production," said Professor Sunil Kumar Maity from IIT Hyderabad.
In order to control the microstructure of carbon during the exothermic dehydration of sugar, the researchers added common salt.
Salt helps in controlled dehydration of sugar, which leads to the formation of carbon nanoplates -- plate like structures that are a hundred thousand times smaller than the human hair.
"Not only is this nanostructure important because of the large surface area, but the surface is also covered by sulfonate groups that makes it an active catalyst," the researchers said.

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First Published: Jul 30 2019 | 6:01 PM IST

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