Titanium-Dioxide Nanocatalyst Synthesizes Bio-fuel For 1200% Longer

Older nanocatalysts lose their activity after 2 hours. This titanium dioxide based nanocatalyst lasts an entire day. Serious implications for improving eco-friendly bio-fuel

A nano-catalyst is a type of nano-scale material that speeds up a chemical reaction, in this case – decomposition of organic bio-waste in to a type of “bio-fuel” that emits less pollution than contemporary alternatives.

Rafael Luque, from RUDN unversity and his colleagues are working on upgrading the extraction of gamma-valerolactone (GVL) from biological waste. In order to do so they need to extend the lifespan of nano-catalysts so that chemical decomposition can last for longer without having to be replaced.

Phys.org reported on the study published in ChemSumChem journal.

GVL is a colorless liquid that can be further distilled in to hydrocarbons – a type of green fuel that does not pollute the atmosphere like oil or gasoline. Unfortunately current methods of obtaining GVL are expensive and short-lived. Modern nano-catalysts are based on the precious metal Ruthenium and only last for about two hour. So scientists need to try something new/

In this experiment they manufactured four titanium dioxide nano-particles with differing concentrations of ruthenium nano-particles – 1, 2, 3, and 5 percent respectively. Current nano-catalysts contain over 5 percent Ruthenium – making them more expensive.

Scientists discovered that titanium-dioxide possessing the highest concentration of ruthenium  (5%) exhibited greater efficiency  in synthesizing GVL from organic levulinic acid or methyl levulinate respectively.

The 5% ruthenium titanium-dioxide nanocatalyst synthesized 97% of organic compounds in to GVL, whereas other nano-particles coupled with the same concentration of ruthenium converted less organic waste, such as Carbon-ruthenium which only converted 52%.

Stability was also improved. Other nano-catalysts stop functioning after two hours, compared to ruthenium titanium-dioxide which appears to actually improve itself over that same amount of time, lasting for a whole day in total.

“A traditional way of GVL synthesis involves short-term reactions in batch reactors,” says Rafael Luque, professor of the Center for Molecular Design and Synthesis of Innovative Compounds for Medicine, and an external specialist of RUDN.

“Therefore, there were no catalysts for continuous GVL production. We managed to create a relatively cheap, highly efficient, and very stable catalytic system based on titanium dioxide crystals. The potential of the new catalysts is not limited to GVL synthesis – we plan to use them in other studies.”





Picture: Electrochemical Society

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