ORNL researchers make progress on ethanol-to jet-fuel

June 7, 2021 |

In Tennessee, in the first step of a multi-step ethanol-to-jet-fuel process developed by DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a catalyst is used to convert ethanol into butene-rich C3+ olefins, important intermediates that can then be processed into aviation fuels. Two more steps—oligomerization and hydrotreating—convert these intermediates into the liquid hydrocarbons used as fuels. A team tasked with improving the current technique for converting ethanol to C3+ olefins and demonstrated a unique composite catalyst that upends current practice and drives down costs. The research was published in ACS Catalysis.

There are two challenges that hinder current conversion techniques from wider adoption: low olefin yield and high production costs. Also, recent approaches to conversion require additional hydrogen, another cost burden. The bottom line? The cost of upgrading ethanol needs to be dramatically lowered to compete with petroleum.

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Category: Research

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