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IIT Hyderabad researchers find a sustainable way to produce diesel, jet fuel

Posted on Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Times News Network

Aimed at creating a sustainable source of energy and reduce the carbon wastes in the aviation and automobile industry, researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have developed a method to produce carbon catalysts at room temperatures using materials such as sugar, common salt and sulphuric acid. These catalysts can be used to convert chemicals derived from biomass into biofuel precursors.

Biological sources such as biofuel is considered to be the most practical solution to attain a 50% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050.
For the experiment, the researchers used common salt to control the microstructure of carbon during the exothermic dehydration of sugar. Salt helps in controlled dehydration of sugar, which creates carbon nanoplates. These plates are covered by sulfonate groups that generate an active catalyst.
The team discovered that the catalytic power of these carbon nanoplates have a better efficiency and selectivity than commercial catalysts to produce the desired C15 oxygenated hydrocarbon – a precursor to diesel and jet fuel.
Biofuels are primarily derived from plant wastes such as corncobs. This process uses highly activated carbon catalysts that require heat treatment of the precursors to temperatures over 1000 degree celsius. To meet the requisite of such high energy not only increases the cost of the catalyst but also negates the attempt to reduce carbon emissions.
“Due to the low cost of precursors with practically zero energy input and simplicity of reaction, this process of producing carbon nanoplates can be easily adopted for large-scale commercial production,” said Sunil Kumar Maity, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Hyderabad.
The experiment was headed by Maity along with Atul Suresh Deshpande, assistant professor, Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering, and their research students namely D Damodar, K Alekhya and V Mohan.


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