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Liquid Alkanes with Targeted Molecular Weights from Biomass-Derived Carbohydrates

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Abstract

Liquid transportation fuels must burn cleanly and have high energy densities, criteria that are currently fulfilled by petroleum, a non-renewable resource, the combustion of which leads to increasing levels of atmospheric CO2. An attractive approach for the production of transportation fuels from renewable biomass resources is to convert carbohydrates into alkanes with targeted molecular weights, such as C8–C15 for jet-fuel applications. Targeted n-alkanes can be produced directly from fructose by an integrated process involving first the dehydration of this C6 sugar to form 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, followed by controlled formation of C[BOND]C bonds with acetone to form C9 and C15 compounds, and completed by hydrogenation and hydrodeoxygenation reactions to form the corresponding n-alkanes. Analogous reactions are demonstrated starting with 5-methylfurfural or 2-furaldehyde, with the latter leading to C8 and C13 n-alkanes.

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