A team at the University of Bristol in the UK has developed an extremely selective (>99%) and productive (>75% conversion) homogeneous ruthenium catalyst for the production of isobutanol from methanol-ethanol mixtures. A paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Chemical Communications.
The researchers had earlier developed a new family of homogeneous ruthenium-based catalysts which demonstrated excellent performance in the upgrading of ethanol to n-butanol, with more than 94% selectivity at good conversion.
Although n-butanol is a superior fuel to ethanol, the branched isomer isobutanol has even more desirable characteristics, and we have been exploring catalytic routes to this fuel molecule.—Wingad et al.
Richard Wingad, Emilie Bergstrom, Matthew Everett, Katy Pellow and Duncan Wass (2016) “Catalytic conversion of methanol/ethanol to isobutanol – a highly selective route to an advanced biofuel” Chem. Commun. doi: 10.1039/C6CC01599A