« More Efficient Way of Converting Ethanol Leads to Better Alternative Fuel »-Univ. of Rochester

« Ethanol, which is produced from corn, is commonly-used as an additive in engine fuel as a way to reduce harmful emissions and scale back U.S. reliance on foreign oil.  But since ethanol is an oxygenated fuel, its use results in a lower energy output, as well as increased damage to engines via corrosion.

But now a research team, led by William Jones at the University of Rochester, has developed a series of reactions that results in the selective conversion of ethanol to butanol, without producing unwanted byproducts.

gas pump says MAY CONTAIN 10% ETHANOL

“Butanol is much better than ethanol as an alternative to gasoline,” said Jones, the C.F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry. “It yields more energy, is less volatile, and doesn’t cause damage to engines.”

In fact, Jones was able to increase the amount of ethanol converted to butanol by almost 25 percent over currently used methods. Jones describes his process in a paper just published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Converting ethanol to butanol involves creating a larger chemical molecule with more carbon and hydrogen atoms.  Although both molecules have a single oxygen atom, the higher carbon-to-oxygen ratio in butanol gives it a higher energy content, while the larger size make it less volatile. (…)

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