THWRC Awarded Proposal 513LUB0022H

Project number:    513LUB0022H

Title:                      Heterogeneous Catalyst Development for the Conversion of Phoshpholipid-

                               Containing Feedstocks to Renewable Transportation Fuels

lead PI:                  Tracy Benson

Awarded amount: $30,000


Project Abstract

            The aim of this research is to develop a bifunctional, heterogeneous catalyst capable of catalyzing the conversion of microbially-derived feedstocks, containing triglycerides and phospholipids, into transportation fuel.  This transportation fuel is similar to biodiesel but has a slightly altered chemistry to avoid the production of the unwanted byproduct glycerol.  Instead, fatty acid glycerol carbonates (FAGCs) are produced along with fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs).  The FAGCs are miscible with FAMEs, which are typical biodiesel components, and have similar combustion properties. Previous work in this area has demonstrated that the biofuel meets the ASTM standard for biodiesel and is expected to be compatible with the existing biodiesel and petreoleum diesel infrastructures.  To accomplish this goal, the PI will develop a layered double hydroxide catalytic material with a ligand-bound organocatalyst and exposed metal cations.  The catalyst will be synthesized and then characterized using XRD, FTIR, Raman, and temperature programmed desorption.  In addition, kinetic parameters for the conversion of phospholipid-containing feedstocks will be evaluated. The benefits from the proposed research would be the development of a catalytic process for the conversion of a renewable resource into green fuels.  This will significantly reduce our environmental impact by displacing petroleum-based fuels with microbial-derived fuels.

            A graduate and an undergraduate student will perform the bulk of the laboratory work with interpretation of the results in consultation with the PI.