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Posted: March 20, 2007
(Nanowerk News) A new material developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Nanoscience Center could replace a costly process in the manufacture of biodiesel that consumes chemicals, water and energy and also reduces the yield of the final product.
During production, catalysts must be applied to transform biodiesel from a thick and sticky substance into a fluid form that can easily be pumped into vehicles. Following this process, these corrosive catalysts must be neutralized and washed from the fuel.
ORNL researchers Sheng Dai and Chengdu Liang, funded by DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences, have created a material of solid acid nanocatalysts that can be fixed inside a reusable column or filter through which the biodiesel can flow, straining out the catalyst materials. This nano-material shows promise for other applications as well, such as fuel cells, batteries and other energy storage and conversion technologies.