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  1. Here, the production of biodiesel by the esterification of oleic acid, as an example of free fatty acid (FFA), was explored by using a new solid acid catalyst derived from lignin, a highly abundant low-cost biomass material. The catalyst was synthesized from lignin-derived carbon fiber by straightforward sulfonation and contains 1.86 mmol/g of sulfonic acid (-SO 3H) groups. The catalyst was characterized by a variety of techniques including PXRD, TGA, TPD-MS, SEM, and XPS to understand the surface chemistry and the result of sulfonation. It was found that the sulfonated lignin-derived carbon fiber (CF-SO 3H) catalyst was very efficient atmore » esterifying oleic acid at 80 oC in 4 hours, with 10 wt. % catalyst (in terms of oleic acid content) and at a 10:1 molar ratio of methanol: oleic acid with a yield of 92%. Furthermore, the catalyst can be reused with no significant loss in activity after 4 cycles. Hence, synthesizing solid acid catalysts from lignin-derived carbon fiber affords a novel strategy for producing biodiesel via ‘green chemistry’.« less
  2. Four grades of nuclear graphite with various microstructures were subjected to accelerated oxidation tests in helium with traces of moisture and hydrogen in order to evaluate the effects of chronic oxidation on graphite components in high temperature gas cooled reactors. Kinetic analysis showed that the Langmuir-Hinshelwood (LH) model cannot consistently reproduce all results. In particular, at high temperatures and water partial pressures oxidation was always faster than the LH model predicts, with stronger deviations for superfine grain graphite than for medium grain grades. It was also found empirically that the apparent reaction order for water has a sigmoid-type variation withmore » temperature which follows the integral Boltzmann distribution function. This suggests that the apparent activation with temperature of graphite reactive sites that causes deviations from the LH model is rooted in specific structural and electronic properties of surface sites on graphite. A semi-global kinetic model was proposed, whereby the classical LH model was modified with a temperature-dependent reaction order for water. The new Boltzmann-enhanced model (BLH) was shown to consistently predict experimental oxidation rates over large ranges of temperature (800-1100 oC) and partial pressures of water (3-1200 Pa) and hydrogen (0-300 Pa), not only for the four grades of graphite but also for the historic grade H-451. The BLH model offers as more reliable input for modeling the chemical environment effects during the life-time operation of new grades of graphite in advanced nuclear reactors operating at high and very high temperatures.« less

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