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Applied biochemistry and biotechnology

Higher-alcohols biorefinery: improvement of catalyst for ethanol conversion.


PMID 15054242

Abstract

The concept of a biorefinery for higher-alcohol production is to integrate ethanol and methanol formation via fermentation and biomass gasification, respectively, with conversion of these simple alcohol intermediates into higher alcohols via the Guerbet reaction. 1-Butanol results from the self-condensation of ethanol in this multistep reaction occurring on a single catalytic bed. Combining methanol with ethanol gives a mixture of propanol, isobutanol, and 2-methyl-1-butanol. All of these higher alcohols are useful as solvents, chemical intermediates, and fuel additives and, consequently, have higher market values than the simple alcohol intermediates. Several new catalysts for the condensation of ethanol and alcohol mixtures to higher alcohols were designed and tested under a variety of conditions. Reactions of methanol-ethanol mixtures gave as high as 100% conversion of the ethanol to form high yields of isobutanol with smaller amounts of 1-propanol, the amounts in the mixture depending on the starting mixture. The most successful catalysts are multifunctional with basic and hydrogen transfer components.

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