Renewable lubricants with tailored molecular architecture

Sibao Liu, Tyler R. Josephson, Abhay Athaley, Qile P. Chen, Angela Norton, Marianthi Ierapetritou, J. Ilja Siepmann, Basudeb Saha, Dionisios G. Vlachos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We present a strategy to synthesize three types of renewable lubricant base oils with up to 90% yield using 2-alkylfurans, derived from nonfood biomass, and aldehydes, produced from natural oils or biomass through three chemistries: hydroxyalkylation/alkylation (HAA), HAA followed by hydrogenation, and HAA followed by hydrodeoxygenation. These molecules consist of (i) furan rings, (ii) saturated furan rings, and (iii) deoxygenated branched alkanes. The structures of these molecules can be tailored in terms of carbon number, branching length, distance between branches, and functional groups. The site-specific, energy-efficient C–C coupling chemistry in oxygenated biomass compounds, unmatched in current refineries, provides tailored structure and tunable properties. Molecular simulation demonstrates the ability to predict properties in agreement with experiments, proving the potential for molecular design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaav5487
JournalScience Advances
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge the Advanced Materials Characterization Laboratory at the University of Delaware for providing the TGA facility and W. Zheng for the help with the HR-TEM. Funding: This work was supported as part of the Catalysis Center for Energy Innovation, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under award number DE-SC0001004.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 The Authors.

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