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Friday, August 19, 2005

Bimolecular Dehydration of 1-Pentanol to Di-n Pentyl Ether (DNPE)

Regulations controlling diesel exhaust become more exacting with each passing year. Accordingly, diesel fuel properties are constantly being analyzed in an attempt to further reduce fuel emissions. There are many options, most often refinement processes or improving the cetane number. Essentially, short and branched ethers (used in gasoline) have a good octane number but poor cetane number, while those ethers used in diesel are linear and have a comparatively long chain (ideally 9 or more carbons). Di-n pentyl ether (DNPE) has shown most effective in reducing emissions, and is also relatively simple to synthesize via the bimolecular dehydration of 1-pentanol on acid catalysts, as seen below.

However, the dehydration reaction results in quite a lot of byproducts, including other ethers. As such, a selective catalyst is required to favor production of DNPE by reducing the amount of alkenes. Increased selectivity can be accomplished via gel-type acidic resins at a reaction temperature of 150°C. The article I looked at analyzed the selectivity and reaction rate of the dehydration of 1-pentanol to DNPE using a gel-type resin at various temperatures and alcohol flow rates. Article Link.


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