Researchers developed a new method to convert waste vegetable oil into useful chemicals, according to a report published on October 24, 2018.
This method was developed by the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research. Highly functionalized terminal alkenes could be produced from fatty acids using a new dual catalytic system. Moreover, this new technique, in the near future, could be used for industrial production of valuable chemicals from a renewable source, such as vegetable oils.
A dual catalytic system is used in the new process. It involves a cobalt proton-reduction catalyst and an iridium-based photoredox catalyst for the conversion of carboxylic acids into alkenes. Carbon dioxide and hydrogen are lost during the process. This process can be used for a range of different structurally complex carboxylic acids.
It is the first homogeneous catalytic process capable of converting carboxylic acids into terminal alkenes without requiring stoichiometric amounts of additives. However, researchers say that the technique is still in development. There is lot of work left for it to be synthesized at large scale. Earlier studies have produced internal alkenes from carboxylic acids catalytically, however, this is the first study of its kind that produces useful terminal alkenes through this method.
Furthermore, the research team is planning to apply the technique more widely for late stage functionalization of complex molecules. They also want to find out if the catalytic system could be used to drive other types of reactions.