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Transesterification of Triglycerides Using Nitrogen-Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes

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Abstract

Nitrogen-functionalized carbon nanotubes were synthesized by grafting amino groups to the surface of the nanotubes. The nanotubes exhibited promising results in the base-catalyzed liquid phase transesterification of glyceryl tributyrate with methanol, which is a model reaction for the production of biodiesel. The concentration of the active sites and the reaction parameters, such as temperature and glyceryl tributyrate to methanol ratio, were shown to significantly affect catalytic performance. The grafting technique employed allowed for design and control of the active sites. As a consequence, it was possible to design a nitrogen-functionalized carbon nanotube catalyst with a few strong, basic groups. This might be of interest for carbohydrate conversion reactions where strong basic sites are required but the pH of the solution should remain mild to avoid the degradation of the reactants and/or products.

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