Researchers Develop Two-Step, One-Pot Process for Synthesis of Benzene from Microalgal Oils
(Green Car Congress) Benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon, is a natural component of crude oil and is one of the elementary petrochemicals. It is used as a precursor to the manufacture of more complex chemicals, and, with a high octane number, is an important component of gasoline.
Researchers at the University of Konstanz in Germany have now developed a two-step, one-pot process for the synthesis of benzene from the five-fold unsaturated fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a component of microalgae oils. Their paper is published in the RSC journal Green Chemistry.
The two step-process—olefin metathesis and the catalytic dehydrogenation of the resulting 1,4-cyclohexadiene—produces two equivalents of benzene per EPA substrate molecule. The only major by-products are 5-octenoic acid and 5-decenedioic acid.
Further, performing the dehydrogenation step under hydrogen pressure results in the formation of their saturated analogues—sebacic acid and octanoic acid, both desirable products—while the simultaneous dehydrogenation step to benzene is not hampered. READ MORE Abstract (Green Chemistry)