Nat Commun. 2023 Mar 13;14(1):1373. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-36602-0.
Our dependence on finite fossil fuels and the insecure energy supply chains have stimulated intensive research for sustainable technologies. Upcycling glycerol, produced from biomass fermentation and as a biodiesel formation byproduct, can substantially contribute in circular carbon economy. Here, we report glycerol’s solvent-free and room-temperature conversion to high-added-value chemicals via a reusable graphene catalyst (G-ASA), functionalized with a natural amino acid (taurine). Theoretical studies unveil that the superior performance of the catalyst (surpassing even homogeneous, industrial catalysts) is associated with the dual role of the covalently linked taurine, boosting the catalyst’s acidity and affinity for the reactants. Unlike previous catalysts, G-ASA exhibits excellent activity (7508 mmol g-1 h-1) and selectivity (99.9%) for glycerol conversion to solketal, an additive for improving fuels’ quality and a precursor of commodity and fine chemicals. Notably, the catalyst is also particularly active in converting oils to biodiesel, demonstrating its general applicability.
PMID:36914639 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-023-36602-0