NC State
Bhattacharya, P., Hassan, E. B., Steele, P., Cooper, J., and Ingram, L. (2010). "Effect of acid catalysts and accelerated aging on the reaction of methanol with hydroxy-acetaldehyde in bio-oil," BioRes. 5(2), 908-919.


Bio-oil is a promising alternative source of energy produced from fast pyrolysis of biomass. Increasing the viscosity of bio-oil during storage is a major problem that can be controlled by the addition of methanol or other alcohols. This paper reports the results of our investigation of the reactions of short chain alcohols with aldehydes and acids in bio-oil. The reaction of methanol with hydroxyacetaldehyde (HA) to form the acetal was catalyzed by the addition of 7 x 10-4 M strong acids such as sulfuric, hydrochloric, p-toluene sulfonic acid, and methanesulfonic acid. HA formed 2,2-dimethoxyethanol (DME), and at 60 oC the equilibrium was reached in less than one hour. Smaller amounts of DME were formed in the absence of strong acid. HA, acetaldehyde, and propanal formed their corresponding acetals when reacted with methanol, ethanol, 1-propanol or 1-butanol. Esters of acetic acid and hydroxyacetic acid were observed from reactions with these same four alcohols. Other acetals and esters were observed by GC/MS analysis of the reaction products. The results from accelerated aging experiments at 90 oC suggest that the presence of methanol slows polymerization by formation of acetals and esters from low molecular weight aldehydes and organic acids.
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