Electrochemical conversion of a bio-derivable hydroxy acid to a drop-in oxygenate diesel fuel†
3-Hydroxy decanoic acid (3-HDA), derivable from glucose or xylose waste-streams, was successfully upgraded electrochemically into a drop-in oxygenate with promising fuel characteristics. Properties such as a cetane number of 63 together with a suitable flash point and cold filter plugging point qualify the mixture for high blending ratios with fossil diesel or Fischer–Tropsch diesel. The individual C9 oxygenates are otherwise only accessible by hydroformylation. Under optimised conditions, anodic decarboxylation of 3-HDA allowed near full conversion and over 95% total yield after 30 minutes. Further, direct electrochemical 3-HDA conversion of a fermentation broth was demonstrated. This allows for a substantial reduction of unit operations and energy requirements, highlighting the potential of integrating electrochemistry and biotechnology into future bio-refineries.