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Advanced biodiesel

A while ago I mentioned FAME biodiesel, and I also mentioned a more advanced form of biodiesel.

https://markforeman.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/cooking-oil-as-methyl-esters/

Now I am going to tell you a little about the newer form of biodiesel. P. Simacek in Fuel 2010, 89, 611-615 describes how rapeseed oil can be hydrogenated using a nickel / molybdenum catalyst to form C16 (heptadecane), C18 (octadecane) and other hydrocarbons.

This report made me think about how does it happen. I looked in the literature to see if someone else had worked out how it works. I saw one paper which is about the decarboxylation of esters on a platinum/alumina surface. P.T. Do in Catal Lett, 2008, 130, 9-18. This paper explains how a platinum on alumina solid is more inclined to form alkanes by decarboxylation while a platinum on titania is predisposed to forming alkanes by hydrogenation. The decarboxylation reminded me of an experiment I read about in my youth (One not to try at home), it describes how by heating quicklime (CaO, calcium oxide) with benzoic acid it is possible to form benzene. I once read a book of chemistry experiments for teenagers which tells you how to make benzene, chloroform and diazomethane in your kitchen. The diazomethane prep is something which is not to be undertaken lightly, I have done it several times under very strictly controlled conditions. Sadly I can not give you a reference for the book, firstly some of you might be inspired to try some of these (Oh so unsafety tested experiments) and secondly I sadly lack a copy of this book from my personal collection + I can not remember the title and author of this book. I read the book as a teenager.

I read another paper which suggested that the reaction is rather like the HDS reaction. I may well tell you what I think of HDS another day.

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