Biphasic Catalysis for Production of Hydrocarbon fuels from Biomass





The use of renewable fuels in aviation is important for reducing our carbon footprint. Current bio-jet fuels produced from biomass feedstocks often have low densities and low volumetric heating values, and are often still blended with petro-jet fuels to meet energy density requirements. Current methods to produce bio-jet fuels with higher thermal stability, such as cycloalkanes, are often expensive, have low selectivity, and require extreme reaction conditions. Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have developed a biphasic tandem catalytic process (biTCP) for synthesizing cycloalkanes from renewable terpenoid biomass.



Our researchers have developed a “one-pot,” highly efficient method for the conversion of terpenoids into cycloalkanes using a biphasic tandem catalytic process (biTCP). Modeling this reaction, we were able to convert 1,8-cineole, a terpenoid compound into p-menthane, a cycloalkane, with a 100% conversion and 100% selectivity within one hour, using mild conditions. This process involves multistep, tandem reactions of C-O ring opening by hydrolysis, dehydration, and hydrogenation, where H2 gas produced in the reaction is used to further hydrogenate the terpinolene to form p-menthane. Our method involves adding both hydrophilic and hydrophobic catalysts into immiscible solvents of an organic and aqueous phase. This biphasic approach allows for the recycling of the homogeneous catalysts, due to the separation of hydrophobic products from the aqueous catalysts. This biTCP promotes yield of the cycloalkane products by extracting and hydrogenating unsaturated hydrocarbon intermediates it the organic phase. Our selected reagents were proven stable in the biTCP reaction, as no activity loss was observed after three consecutive times. This biTCP process can be used for the conversion of various biomass feedstocks to renewable hydrocarbon fuels with high carbon efficiencies.



  • Our method allows for the production of jet-fuel range products from terpenoid biomass
  • Our method promotes the yield of cycloalkane products
  • Our method allows for the reuse of catalyst reagents


Patents and Publications





Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Shannon Sheehan
Manager, Technology Commercialization
University of Nevada, Reno
Hongfei Lin