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Hydrocarbons from fatty acids via hydrothermal catalytic cracking

Project Lead: Tiffany Mo

The production of biofuels from microalgae will be much more economically feasible when this production is combined with the production of bulk chemicals and food and feed ingredients.  Our goal is to produce high value renewable chemicals from microalgae.

The current study focuses on a model compound, palmitic acid, which is a C16 saturated fatty acid.  Fatty acids make up a large part of microalgae lipids.  The experimental results showed that cracking palmitic acids using zeolite in supercritical water generated valuable hydrocarbons, such as aromatics.  This new approach of renewable chemicals from wet algae can be used either to reduce the bio-oil production cost or as a renewable “green” path for the bulk chemical production industry.

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