Highly selective conversion of natural oil to alcohols or alkanes over a Pd stabilized CuZnAl catalyst under mild conditions
A novel and green catalytic system based on a Pd stabilized CuZnAl catalyst was designed for one-pot conversion of natural oil components to the corresponding alcohols or long-chain linear and branched alkanes with high selectivity and atom economy. When methyl decanoate was used as the model compound, a nearly full yield of n-decanol was obtained at 200 °C and 2 MPa H2 within 8 h. 100% decane was produced when acidic HZSM-5 was introduced under the same reaction conditions, and the selectivity of n-decane and i-decane could be tuned by temperature. Cu species were verified as the active sites for lipid conversion, while a small amount of Pd could stabilize the catalyst to avoid Cu leaching. The reaction pathway involved hydrogenation, where methyl decanoate can be equivalently converted to methanol and decanol or decane, and no extra CO2 or CO from decarboxylation or decarbonylation was detected. This system increases the sustainability and economy of natural oil conversion to valuable liquid fuel and chemicals.