Researchers in China have developed a new hydroprocessing catalyst—nickel (Ni) and phosphotungstic acid (HPW) supported on carbon nanotubes (CNT)—to produce alkanes from vegetable oils.
In an open-access paper in the journal NANO, they report that the distribution of products can be adjusted by reaction temperature. At 320 ˚C, the yield of C15–C18 alkanes was 88.5 wt.%, while the yield of < C15 alkanes reached 51.9 wt.% at 400 ˚C.
The catalyst is very significant for the performance during hydroprocessing process. Pre-sulfided Al2O3 supported NiMo and CoMo catalysts are conventionally used to achieve high hydrotreating activity. However, sulfidation provokes environmental pollution. Noble metal (Pt, Pd) catalysts have been studied to avoid sulfidation, but such catalysts are expensive to be used in the industrial production. In our previous works, nickel and phosphotungstic acid (HPW) were supported on Al2O3 or hydroxyapatite (HA) to avoid sulfidation process, but hydrotreating activity of these catalysts should be further improved.
…In this work, we go forward to refine our heteropoly acid catalyst. The CNT supported with nickel (Ni) and HPW was prepared for the hydroprocessing of Jatropha oil without sulfidation in a continuous fixed-bed flow reactor.—Yang et al.
Xiaosong Yang, Xiaoming Li, Jing Liu, and Long Rong (2017) “A Clean Hydroprocessing of Jatropha Oil into Biofuels over a High Performance Ni-HPW/CNT Catalyst” Nano 12:12 doi: 10.1142/S1793292017501429