Esterification catalyst with no need for byproduct processing

May 18, 2016

Potential applications for high-efficiency biodiesel fuel synthesis

Esterification and transesterification reactions are commonly used in a wide variety of production processes, such as for pharmaceuticals, functional materials and petrochemical products, as well for biodiesel fuel synthesis. However, such processes require a high mole percentage of dangerous substances such as sulfuric acid as a catalyst, the removal of water, alcohol or other synthesis byproducts, or high temperatures.

To overcome these limitations, a joint RIKEN CSRS–Hanyang University (Korea) research team developed the porous high molecular weight catalyst phenolsulfonic acid–formaldehyde resin (PAFR). This catalyst functions at less than one mole percentage and promoted effective esterification and transesterification. PAFR supports not only high yields of carboxylic acid esters but there is also no need to remove water and alcohol byproducts. The team also succeeded in efficiently synthesizing biofuel from fatty acid methyl esters (FAME). Loading PAFR into a flow-reactor column also provided efficient esterification and transesterification reactions that resulted in their corresponding esters.

Large-scale reactors that allow synthesis at industrial scales could be realized once improvements to stability and durability can be made.


Original article
Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep25925
H. Baek, M. Minakawa, Y. M. A. Yamada, J. W. Han, Y. Uozumi,
"In-Water and Neat Batch and Continuous-Flow Direct Esterification and Transesterification by a Porous Polymeric Acid Catalyst".

Yoichi Yamada; Deputy Team Leader
Yasuhiro Uozumi; Team Leader
Green Nanocatalysis Research Team