Researchers in China have developed an effective method for the conversion of carbohydrates into liquid biofuels 5-ethoxymethylfurfural (EMF) over a magnetic solid acid catalyst (Fe3O4@C—SO3H). A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.
Ethoxymethylfurfural has an energy density of 8.7 kWh/L—very close to that of regular gasoline (8.8 kWh/L), nearly as good diesel (9.7 kWh/L) and significantly higher than ethanol (6.1 kWh/L). (Earlier post.)
The catalysts show high catalytic activity toward the synthesis of EMF from carbohydrates. As reported in the paper, the etherification of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) with ethanol over Fe3O4@C—SO3H catalyst produced EMF with a high yield of 88.4%.
The catalyst also showed high activity toward the one-pot conversion of fructose based carbohydrates into EMF. EMF was obtained in a yield of 67.8% from fructose, and that was 58.4% from inulin. The catalyst can be easily collected by an external magnet and reused for several times without the significant loss of its catalytic activity.
Ziliang Yuan, Zehui Zhang, Judun Zheng, Jintao Lin (2015) “Efficient synthesis of promising liquid fuels 5-ethoxymethylfurfural from carbohydrates,” Fuel, Volume 150, Pages 236-242 doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2015.02.020