Catalytic cracking of yeast-borne single-cell oil for the production of small-chain olefins over a PtSn/alumina catalyst†
The ever-growing demand for sustainable energy and chemicals associated with declining fossil reserves motivates the quest for alternative feedstocks and processes. Short-chain olefins have numerous end-uses in the polyolefin industry and need to be supplemented or integrated with an alternative process to meet future demands. This work demonstrates that single-cell oil (SCO) derived from the oleaginous yeast Rhodotorula mucilaginosa IIPL32 could be a renewable feedstock for olefin production. A PtSn/alumina catalyst provided 60–70% gas yield, which consisted of ∼55–60% C2–C4 olefins. High selectivity to C2–C4 olefins is attributed to the selective catalytic cracking of long-chain lipid molecules over nanosized PtSn/alumina and the synergy between surface acidic sites and reducible Pt species, which improves the chemical stability and quality of the resulting gaseous hydrocarbon.