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  1. The formation of soot precursors during combustion of three positional isomers of methylcyclohexene was investigated in flow reactor experiments and through density functional theory simulations. As evidenced by a recently published structure-property model, the sooting tendencies of these compounds differ from those of structurally similar molecules - suggesting new or unusual reaction chemistry. It was demonstrated that 1-methyl-1-cyclohexene and 4-methyl-1-cyclohexene preferentially react via a retro-Diels-Alder pathway leading to ring opening and molecular weight reduction. 3-methyl-1-cyclohexene, which exhibits much higher yield sooting index, preferentially reacts via dehydrogenation to cyclohexadienes and toluene - consistent with higher soot formation. It was demonstrated thatmore » the relative stability of the first radical intermediate plays a considerable role in determining the branching ratio between formation of soot precursors and ring opened retro-Diels-Alder reaction products. This study underscores the importance that small structural features can have in determining the ultimate fate of carbon during combustion processes.« less
  2. Alkylated furans such as 2,5-dimethylfuran and 2-methylfuran can be produced from biomass and have very attractive properties for use as spark-ignition fuel blendstocks. Their high octane numbers, relatively high energy density, low water solubility, and minimal effect on gasoline blend volatility are potentially significant advantages over alcohol-based fuels. However, prior studies have reported poor oxidative stability for furanic compound-gasoline blends, as well as the potential for the formation of dangerous organic peroxides. We show that alkylated furans have very low oxidative stability compared to conventional gasoline. Upon oxidation they form highly polar ring-opening products that can react with the startingmore » furanic compound to form dimers, trimers, and higher polymers with intact furan rings. Dimers of the starting furan compounds were also observed. These gasoline-insoluble gums can be problematic for fuel storage or in vehicle fuel systems. Evaporation to dryness under ambient conditions also produced gum with similar composition. Gums produced via evaporation were found to contain peroxides; however, whether these pose a threat of shock initiated explosion has not been determined. We also propose a density functional theory-based analysis of possible reaction pathways, showing that OH radicals can form by reaction of the alkyl group and that addition of OH radicals to the furan ring is energetically favored and leads to ring opening products. As a result, antioxidant additives can be effective at limiting the oxidation reaction in gasoline, but require much higher concentrations than are commonly used in commercial gasolines.« less
  3. Algal lipids represent a promising feedstock for production of renewable diesel, but there is little information available regarding the integration of pretreatment, extraction, and catalytic upgrading steps. In this work, we examined oil bleaching by two methods and the effects of bleaching on oil deoxygenation over Pd/C and hydroisomerization over Pt/SAPO-11 catalysts. The raw oil was completely deoxygenated and 90% denitrogenated after dilution to 25 wt % in hexanes. The bleaching operations (using either a polar adsorbent or concentrated H 3PO 4) removed 85-90% of the nitrogen and led to 95-99% nitrogen removal after deoxygenation. Oil processability was also improvedmore » by bleaching. Here, the bulk chemistry of the deoxygenation and isomerization was not strongly affected by bleaching, as post-isomerization products with cloud points less than -10 °C and boiling ranges within or close to specification for No. 2 diesel fuel were obtained through 10 h time on stream with or without bleaching.« less
  4. Particulate matter emissions negatively affect public health and global climate, yet newer fuel-efficient gasoline direct injection engines tend to produce more soot than their port-fuel injection counterparts. Fortunately, the search for sustainable biomass-based fuel blendstocks provides an opportunity to develop fuels that suppress soot formation in more efficient engine designs. However, as emissions tests are experimentally cumbersome and the search space for potential bioblendstocks is vast, new techniques are needed to estimate the sooting tendency of a diverse range of compounds. In this study, we develop a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) model of sooting tendency based on the experimental yieldmore » sooting index (YSI), which ranks molecules on a scale from n-hexane, 0, to benzene, 100. The model includes a rigorously defined applicability domain, and the predictive performance is checked using both internal and external validation. Model predictions for compounds in the external test set had a median absolute error of ~3 YSI units. An investigation of compounds that are poorly predicted by the model lends new insight into the complex mechanisms governing soot formation. Predictive models of soot formation can therefore be expected to play an increasingly important role in the screening and development of next-generation biofuels.« less
  5. Oxygenated biofuels provide a renewable, domestic source of energy that can enable adoption of advanced, high-efficiency internal combustion engines, such as those based on homogeneously charged compression ignition (HCCI). Of key importance to such engines is the cetane number (CN) of the fuel, which is determined by the autoignition of the fuel under compression at relatively low temperatures (550-800 K). For the plethora of oxygenated biofuels possible, it is desirable to know the ignition delay times and the CN of these fuels to help guide conversion strategies so as to focus efforts on the most desirable fuels. For alkanes, themore » chemical pathways leading to radical chain-branching reactions giving rise to low-temperature autoignition are well-known and are highly coincident with the buildup of reactive radicals such as OH. Key in the mechanisms leading to chain branching are the addition of molecular oxygen to alkyl radicals and the rearrangement and dissociation of the resulting peroxy radials. Prediction of the temperature and pressure dependence of reactions that lead to the buildup of reactive radicals requires a detailed understanding of the potential energy surfaces (PESs) of these reactions. In this study, we used quantum mechanical modeling to systematically compare the effects of oxygen functionalities on these PESs and associated kinetics so as to understand how they affect experimental trends in autoignition and CN. The molecules studied here include pentane, pentanol, pentanal, 2-heptanone, methylpentyl ether, methyl hexanoate, and pentyl acetate. All have a saturated five-carbon alkyl chain with an oxygen functional group attached to the terminal carbon atom. The results of our systematic comparison may be summarized as follows: (1) Oxygen functionalities activate C-H bonds by lowering the bond dissociation energy (BDE) relative to alkanes. (2) The R-OO bonds in peroxy radicals adjacent to carbonyl groups are weaker than corresponding alkyl systems, leading to dissociation of ROO radicals and reducing reactivity and hence CN. (3) Hydrogen atom transfer in peroxy radicals is important in autoignition, and low barriers for ethers and aldehydes lead to high CN. (4) Peroxy radicals formed from alcohols have low barriers to form aldehydes, which reduce the reactivity of the alkyl radical. In conclusion, these findings for the formation and reaction of alkyl radicals with molecular oxygen explain the trend in CN for these common biofuel functional groups.« less

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