Conversion of Biomass-Derived Furanics to Fuel-Range Hydrocarbons: Use of Palm Oil Empty Fruit Bunches

  • Natalia Pino
  • Robison Buitrago-Sierra
  • Diana LópezEmail author
Original Paper


In the search of hydrocarbon fuels derived from biomass, the increase in the chain length with the elimination of oxygenated species is a hard task. The simultaneous conversion of furfural and cyclopentanone to fuel range hydrocarbons has been investigated on a series of solid base catalysts. Furfural represents the family of sugars, typically obtained from the hemicellulose biomass fraction by different catalytic routes. Cyclopentanone can be readily obtained from the catalytic conversion of furfural via Piancatelli ring-rearrangement under reducing conditions. Aimed to enlarge the carbon chain length of these oxygenates, the aldol-condensation reaction between furfural and cyclopenanone was studied over MgAl mixed oxides, among which the MgAl-3 mixed oxide exhibited the best catalytic activity to produce C10–C14 oxygenates, a suitable range for transportation fuel precursors (C7–C15). After this C–C coupling reaction, the large oxygenates were successfully upgraded via hydrodeoxygenation on carbon-supported Ru and Pd nanoparticles to produce a mixture of linear alkanes and saturated cyclic hydrocarbons, which in practice would be direct drop-in components for transportation fuels. As an illustration of the potential implementation of this strategy for biofuel production, palm oil empty fruit bunches were experimentally evaluated using different acid pretreatments to extract the furfural, which was further employed to perform the aldol-condensation reactions. It was found that the proposed catalytic strategy is an environmentally-friendly route to add value to the palm oil industry wastes by producing value-added chemicals and fuel precursors.

Graphical Abstract


Empty fruit bunches Furfural Cyclopentanone Aldol-condensation Hydrodeoxygenation Fuel precursors 



The authors thank the project “Sustainable products from biomass” financed by Newton Institutional Link Funds, Colciencias, and Universidad de Antioquia UdeA (FP44842-241-2017). Natalia Pino gratefully acknowledges to the Universidad de Antioquia for her Doctoral scholarship.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

Supplementary material

12649_2019_599_MOESM1_ESM.docx (264 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 264 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Química de Recursos Energéticos y Medio Ambiente, Instituto de Química, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad de Antioquia UdeAMedellínColombia
  2. 2.Grupo de Investigación en Materiales Avanzados y Energía-MATyER, Facultad de IngenieríaInstituto Tecnológico Metropolitano-ITMMedellínColombia

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