Greener Gasoline with gamma-Valerolactone (GVL)

March 17, 2008 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

Organic chemistry students learn that gasoline is a blend of linear and branched hydrocarbons, a fact that is recognized by a gasoline’s “octane” rating. Less time is spent discussing “oxygenated” fuels created from additives like ethanol and methyl tert-butyl ether. These fuels are desirable because they have higher octane levels and burn more cleanly. (Ethanol, of course, is also used as a gasoline substitute.)

Horvath et al. (Green Chem., 2008, 10, 238-242) now report that γ-valerolactone (GVL) might be a greener fuel additive than either alcohols or ethers. Unlike the other compounds, GVL doesn’t attract water (non-hygroscopic), it has a relatively low vapor pressure (thus limiting VOC-derived air pollution), it possesses a relatively high flash point and low melting point, and it doesn’t easily form peroxides upon standing in air (these properties facilitate safe storage and transport). GVL is produced by fruit, so large-scale use by drivers would require the development of another source, and the team examines the possibility of converting sucrose to GVL.

gamma-valerolactone

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Entry filed under: In the News.

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