Convert Cellulose to Alkane: Process Explained

  • Thread starter samblohm
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In summary, converting cellulose into an alkane is not a cost-efficient process. This is because cellulose is a branched sugar chain with short carbon chains and hydroxo groups attached. However, for fuel purposes, producing cellulosic ethanol is a viable option. There have been experiments where cellulose has been successfully converted into glucose, which can then be further oxidized to produce aldehydes or ketones. These can then be treated with hydrazine and KOH to form alkanes. The process involves mechanical milling with a catalyst, but further details are not available as the article is being submitted for publication.
  • #1
samblohm
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I'm just curious, what would the process be if someone wanted to change cellulose into an alkane? (I don't plan to try it. If I wanted an alkane then I could just go to the gas station.)
 
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  • #2
Can't quite be done really. (in any manner cost efficient enough to be sensible) Cellulose is just a (very branched) sugar chain, so you don't have any individual carbon chains longer than the 6 in glucose, and each of those has a hydroxo group on it, meaning you'd have to reduce that to get an alkane.

For fuel purposes, cellulosic ethanol is where it's at.
 
  • #3
I saw an article on this last week. I believe it was PhysOrg. Anyway, http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/308/5727/1446?hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&FIRSTINDEX=0&maxtoshow=&journalcode=sci&HITS=10&fulltext=Production+of+Liquid+Alkanes+by+Aqueous-phase+Processing+of&searchid=1140726225359_13321"
 
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  • #4
I have conducted experiments in which I have successfully converted cellulose into glucose. If you wanted an alkane, in theory, you could oxidize all the -OH of glucose to their respective aldehydes or ketones and treat them with hydrazine/KOH (Wolff-Kishner Reduction) to replace all C=O with H-C-H
 
  • #5
How did you hydrate the cellulose?
 
  • #6
Mechanical milling with the aid of a catalyst. I can't really divulge into details because we're submitting the article for publication.
 

Related to Convert Cellulose to Alkane: Process Explained

1. What is cellulose and why is it important to convert it to alkane?

Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate found in plants and is the most abundant organic compound on Earth. It serves as an important structural component in plant cell walls and provides the necessary strength and rigidity for plants to grow. Converting cellulose to alkane allows us to transform this abundant and renewable resource into a more versatile and energy-dense fuel source.

2. What is the process for converting cellulose to alkane?

The process of converting cellulose to alkane involves several steps. First, the cellulose must be broken down into smaller molecules through a process called hydrolysis. This can be achieved through enzymatic reactions or by using heat and acid. Next, the resulting sugars are fermented by microorganisms to produce ethanol. Finally, the ethanol is converted to alkane through a process called catalytic deoxygenation.

3. What are the benefits of converting cellulose to alkane?

Converting cellulose to alkane offers several benefits. It allows us to utilize a renewable resource, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Alkane also has a higher energy density than ethanol, making it a more efficient fuel source. Additionally, the conversion of cellulose to alkane can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as alkane burns cleaner than fossil fuels.

4. What are the challenges of converting cellulose to alkane?

One of the main challenges of converting cellulose to alkane is the efficiency of the process. The hydrolysis and fermentation steps can be energy-intensive and require specific conditions to be effective. Additionally, the cost of converting cellulose to alkane is currently higher than traditional fossil fuel production methods. There are also technical challenges in scaling up the process for large-scale production.

5. What are some potential applications of alkane produced from cellulose?

Alkane produced from cellulose can be used as a fuel source for transportation, such as in cars, trucks, and airplanes. It can also be used in power generation to produce electricity. Additionally, alkane can be used as a feedstock in the production of various chemicals, such as plastics and solvents. The versatility of alkane makes it a valuable resource for a wide range of industries.

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