Catalytic conversion of Botryococcus braunii oil to diesel fuel under mild reaction conditions


Although the non-oxygenated triterpenic hydrocarbons (primarily C34H58) produced by the Bot-22 strain of Botryococcus braunii are exceptionally promising candidates for automobile fuel applications, it remains necessary to develop appropriate cracking technologies to convert these oils into a fuel with the required properties. The aim of this research was to develop an on-site process capable of converting the oil extracted from Bot-22 (Bot-oil) to a fuel that satisfies the specifications for diesel fuels, a so-called “drop-in” fuel. One of our primary goals for this on-site conversion was to have it operate as a low-temperature process. In this study, an experimental analysis of Bot-oil catalytic conversion under mild conditions was performed. The results demonstrated that the Bot-oil conversion reaction will proceed at temperatures as low as approximately 200 °C, and that the lowest temperature which resulted in a suitably efficient reaction was found to be 260 °C, generating a yield of 85 %. The physical properties of the converted oil were found to come close to satisfying Japan’s JIS #2 diesel fuel specification. The converted oil’s cetane number (CN), one of the most important quality indexes of diesel fuels, was estimated by measuring its ignition delay in a constant-volume combustion chamber. The estimated CN of the converted oil had a value of 40, which is 5 points below the JIS #2 requirement. It is thought that the Bot-oil can be used to produce a drop-in fuel using a simple on-site conversion process, although further development is required to achieve this aim.

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Correspondence to Seiji Yamamoto.

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Yamamoto, S., Mandokoro, Y., Nagano, S. et al. Catalytic conversion of Botryococcus braunii oil to diesel fuel under mild reaction conditions. J Appl Phycol 26, 55–64 (2014).

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  • Botryococcus braunii
  • Catalytic reaction
  • Cetane number
  • Diesel fuel
  • Conversion system