Esterification of glycerol over a solid acid biochar catalyst derived from waste biomass

N. Lingaiah, Mahammad Rafi J., Rajashekar A, Srinivas M, BVSK Rao and Prasad B N R. (2015). “Esterification of glycerol over a solid acid biochar catalyst derived from waste biomass.” RSC Advances online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1039/C5RA06613A

Abstract: Karanja seed shells were subjected to pyrolysis in inert atmosphere at different temperatures to prepare biochar. The biochar was characterized by X-ray diffraction, FT-infra red, Laser Raman, thermo gravimetric analysis, CHNS-elemental analysis, BET surface area and temperature programmed desorption of ammonia. These biochar carbon catalysts were used as catalysts without any functionalization/treatment for the esterification of glycerol with acetic acid. Carbonization at 400 oC led to the formation of biochar with more number of strong acidic sites. High temperature carbonization amorphous carbon composed of aromatic carbon sheets oriented in a considerably random fashion. The biochar obtained at 400 oC exhibited highest glycerol esterification activity. The catalytic activity of the biochar was explained based on its properties derived from different characterization methods. The biochar catalyst can be reusable with consistent activity.

Report on Bioenergy and Sustainability launched at FAPESP

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More than 100 experts from around the world contributed to the report, which presents main findings and recommendations on current production and use of bioenergy, as well as growth potential, considering such aspects as land use, feedstocks, technologies, impacts and policies.

Boeing aims to quit fossil fuel habit with tobacco-based jet fuel

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

The scientific consensus around smoking being bad for your health is famously as solid as that which demonstrates how human activity is contributing to climate change. Now Boeing and partner South African Airways (SAA) may have found a way to tackle both problems by producing renewable jet fuel from a special type of tobacco plant.

Plowing prairies for grains: Biofuel crops replace grasslands nationwide

Read the full story from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Clearing grasslands to make way for biofuels may seem counterproductive, but University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show in a study today (April 2, 2015) that crops, including the corn and soy commonly used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

The study — from UW-Madison graduate student Tyler Lark, geography Professor Holly Gibbs, and postdoctoral researcher Meghan Salmon — is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters and addresses the debate over whether the recent boom in demand for common biofuel crops has led to the carbon-emitting conversion of natural areas. It also reveals loopholes in U.S. policies that may contribute to these unintended consequences.

Conversion of land to grow biofuels boosted greenhouse emissions

Read the full story at EnvironmentalResearchWeb.

Travelling on a biodiesel bus feels good. As your bus purrs along, you can rest assured that your journey is not contributing to climate change. Or so we’ve been led to believe. Now, a study conducted in the US questions whether biofuels are as green as they seem.

USDA publishes final BCAP rule

Read the full story in Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The USDA has released the final rule for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and though the general scope of BCAP is not changing with its recently published final rule, there are some key changes being made to the program, including matching payment and funding amounts, material eligibility and project areas.

How one bacterium could help ease reliance on food crops for biofuel

Read the full story from the Christian Science Monitor.

In the quest for affordable, non-food sources of biofuel, biologists are recruiting an unlikely ally: a bacterium that has historically been the bane of brewers.

The bacterium, Zymomonas mobilis, causes beer to spoil. But it also converts biomass such as switch grass and crop residues into ethanol faster and in larger quantities, cell for cell, than does yeast, the most widely used fermenting agent. It leaves less bacterial biomass at the end of the process. And it carries something yeast doesn’t – an enzyme that gives it an ability to draw the nitrogen it needs as fertilizer directly from air, rather than from costly commercial supplements.

Now a team of biologists from Indiana University says it has provided unambiguous evidence that Z. mobilis actually can use simple nitrogen gas as a fertilizer – a matter of some dispute in recent years, even though researchers have known for decades that the bacterium had the biochemical tools to do so. And it does so without sacrificing the amount of ethanol it makes.