Euro Parliament report analyzes Industry 4.0 potential
Kyushu University research group develops new method for creating highly efficient gold nanoparticle catalysts for fuel cells

Extremely selective and productive catalyst to produce isobutanol from methanol-ethanol mixtures

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



Converting ethanol to Butanol is a really good idea.
However, ruthenium is a very scarce metal with about 20 tons production per year so this may not be a practical solution.

Nice try, though and they might be able to find a more available catalyst based on this work.


It's just a catalyst, so you may not need much at all, and it doesn't get consumed in the conversion, so it remains to convert more raw ingredients to isobutanol. And of course this research may lead to investigation of other materials which are cheaper and more plentiful. The more you know...

The comments to this entry are closed.