The combination of dwindling oil reserves and growing concerns over carbon dioxide emissions and associated climate change is driving the urgent development of routes to utilize renewable feedstocks as sustainable sources of fuels. Catalysis has a rich history of facilitating energy efficient selective molecular transformations and contributes to 90% of chemical manufacturing processes and to more than 20% of all industrial products. In a post-petroleum era catalysis will be central to overcoming the engineering and scientific barriers to economically feasible routes to bio-fuels. This article will highlight some of the recent developments in the development of solid acid and base catalysts for the transesterification of oils to biodiesel. Particular attention will be paid to the challenges faced when developing new catalysts and importance of considering the design of pore architectures to improve in-pore diffusion of bulky substrates.
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Wilson, K., Lee, A.F. & Dacquin, JP. Hierarchical Macroporous Mesoporous Materials for Biodiesel Synthesis. MRS Online Proceedings Library 1326, 406 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1557/opl.2011.1098