One-pot alcoholysis of the lignocellulosic eucalyptus nitens biomass to n-butyl levulinate, a valuable additive for diesel motor fuel
UNIVERSAL IDENTIFIER: http://hdl.handle.net/11093/2401
EDITED VERSION: https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4344/10/5/509
UNESCO SUBJECT: 3303.03 Procesos Químicos ; 3310.05 Ingeniería de Procesos ; 3312.13 Tecnología de la Madera
DOCUMENT TYPE: article
The present investigation represents a concrete example of complete valorization of Eucalyptus nitens biomass, in the framework of the circular economy. Autohydrolyzed-delignified Eucalyptus nitens was employed as a cheap cellulose-rich feedstock in the direct alcoholysis to n-butyl levulinate, adopting n-butanol as green reagent/reaction medium, very dilute sulfuric acid as a homogeneous catalyst, and different heating systems. The effect of the main reaction parameters to give n-butyl levulinate was investigated to check the feasibility of this reaction and identify the coarse ranges of the main operating variables of greater relevance. High n-butyl levulinate molar yields (35–40 mol%) were achieved under microwave and traditional heating, even using a very high biomass loading (20 wt%), an eligible aspect from the perspective of the high gravity approach. The possibility of reprocessing the reaction mixture deriving from the optimized experiment by the addition of fresh biomass was evaluated, achieving the maximum n-butyl levulinate concentration of about 85 g/L after only one microwave reprocessing of the mother liquor, the highest value hitherto reported starting from real biomass. The alcoholysis reaction was further optimized by Response Surface Methodology, setting a Face-Centered Central Composite Design, which was experimentally validated at the optimal operating conditions for the n-butyl levulinate production. Finally, a preliminary study of diesel engine performances and emissions for a model mixture with analogous composition to that produced from the butanolysis reaction was performed, confirming its potential application as an additive for diesel fuel, without separation of each component.
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