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Concept: Gasoline


BACKGROUND: Lignin is often overlooked in the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass, but lignin-based materials and chemicals represent potential value-added products for biorefineries that could significantly improve the economics of a biorefinery. Fluctuating crude oil prices and changing fuel specifications are some of the driving factors to develop new technologies that could be used to convert polymeric lignin into low molecular weight lignin and or monomeric aromatic feedstocks to assist in the displacement of the current products associated with the conversion of a whole barrel of oil. We present an approach to produce these chemicals based on the selective breakdown of lignin during ionic liquid pretreatment. RESULTS: The lignin breakdown products generated are found to be dependent on the starting biomass, and significant levels were generated on dissolution at 160[degree sign]C for 6 hrs. Guaiacol was produced on dissolution of biomass and technical lignins. Vanillin was produced on dissolution of kraft lignin and eucalytpus. Syringol and allyl guaiacol were the major products observed on dissolution of switchgrass and pine, respectively, whereas syringol and allyl syringol were obtained by dissolution of eucalyptus. Furthermore, it was observed that different lignin-derived products could be generated by tuning the process conditions. CONCLUSIONS: We have developed an ionic liquid based process that depolymerizes lignin and converts the low molecular weight lignin fractions into a variety of renewable chemicals from biomass. The generated chemicals (phenols, guaiacols, syringols, eugenol, catechols), their oxidized products (vanillin, vanillic acid, syringaldehyde) and their easily derivatized hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, xylene, styrene, biphenyls and cyclohexane) already have relatively high market value as commodity and specialty chemicals, green building materials, nylons, and resins.

Concepts: Gasoline, Petroleum, Benzene, Lignin, Phenols, Vanillin, Guaiacol, Eugenol


The dangers of lead exposure have been recognized for millennia. In the first century a.d., Dioscorides observed in his De Materia Medica that “lead makes the mind give way.” The first industrial hygiene act passed in the colonies, in 1723, prohibited the use of lead in the apparatus used to distill rum, because “the strong liquors and spirits that are distilld through leaden heads or pipes are judged on good grounds to be unwholsom and hurtful.” More recently, large amounts of lead were used to boost the octane rating of gasoline and improve the performance of paint. One would be . . .

Concepts: Gasoline, Ethanol, Benzene, Toluene, Octane, Century, Pedanius Dioscorides, Materia medica


Carbonaceous particulate matter (PM), comprising black carbon (BC), primary organic aerosol (POA) and secondary organic aerosol (SOA, from atmospheric aging of precursors), is a highly toxic vehicle exhaust component. Therefore, understanding vehicle pollution requires knowledge of both primary emissions, and how these emissions age in the atmosphere. We provide a systematic examination of carbonaceous PM emissions and parameterisation of SOA formation from modern diesel and gasoline cars at different temperatures (22, -7 °C) during controlled laboratory experiments. Carbonaceous PM emission and SOA formation is markedly higher from gasoline than diesel particle filter (DPF) and catalyst-equipped diesel cars, more so at -7 °C, contrasting with nitrogen oxides (NOX). Higher SOA formation from gasoline cars and primary emission reductions for diesels implies gasoline cars will increasingly dominate vehicular total carbonaceous PM, though older non-DPF-equipped diesels will continue to dominate the primary fraction for some time. Supported by state-of-the-art source apportionment of ambient fossil fuel derived PM, our results show that whether gasoline or diesel cars are more polluting depends on the pollutant in question, i.e. that diesel cars are not necessarily worse polluters than gasoline cars.

Concepts: Gasoline, Catalytic converter, Carbon, Pollution, Air pollution, Automobile, Soot, Internal combustion engine


Despite ethanol’s penetration into urban transportation, observational evidence quantifying the consequence for the atmospheric particulate burden during actual, not hypothetical, fuel-fleet shifts, has been lacking. Here we analyze aerosol, meteorological, traffic, and consumer behavior data and find, empirically, that ambient number concentrations of 7-100-nm diameter particles rise by one-third during the morning commute when higher ethanol prices induce 2 million drivers in the real-world megacity of São Paulo to substitute to gasoline use (95% confidence intervals: +4,154 to +13,272 cm(-3)). Similarly, concentrations fall when consumers return to ethanol. Changes in larger particle concentrations, including US-regulated PM2.5, are statistically indistinguishable from zero. The prospect of increased biofuel use and mounting evidence on ultrafines' health effects make our result acutely policy relevant, to be weighed against possible ozone increases. The finding motivates further studies in real-world environments. We innovate in using econometrics to quantify a key source of urban ultrafine particles.The biofuel ethanol has been introduced into urban transportation in many countries. Here, by measuring aerosols in São Paulo, the authors find that high ethanol prices coincided with an increase in harmful nanoparticles by a third, as drivers switched from ethanol to cheaper gasoline, showing a benefit of ethanol.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gasoline, Ethanol, Particulate, Aerosol, Ethanol fuel, Diesel particulate matter, Internal combustion engine


The indoor built environment plays a critical role in our overall well-being, both due to the amount of time we spend indoors (~90%) and the ability of buildings to positively or negatively influence our health. The advent of sustainable design or green building strategies reinvigorated questions regarding the specific factors in buildings that lead to optimized conditions for health and productivity.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Environment, Gasoline, Natural environment, Carbon, Recycling, Environmentalism, House


Electroreduction of carbon dioxide into higher-energy liquid fuels and chemicals is a promising but challenging renewable energy conversion technology. Among the electrocatalysts screened so far for carbon dioxide reduction, which includes metals, alloys, organometallics, layered materials and carbon nanostructures, only copper exhibits selectivity towards formation of hydrocarbons and multi-carbon oxygenates at fairly high efficiencies, whereas most others favour production of carbon monoxide or formate. Here we report that nanometre-size N-doped graphene quantum dots (NGQDs) catalyse the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide into multi-carbon hydrocarbons and oxygenates at high Faradaic efficiencies, high current densities and low overpotentials. The NGQDs show a high total Faradaic efficiency of carbon dioxide reduction of up to 90%, with selectivity for ethylene and ethanol conversions reaching 45%. The C2 and C3 product distribution and production rate for NGQD-catalysed carbon dioxide reduction is comparable to those obtained with copper nanoparticle-based electrocatalysts.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Iron, Redox, Electrochemistry, Gasoline, Carbon, Carbon monoxide


Propane (C3H8) is a volatile hydrocarbon with highly favourable physicochemical properties as a fuel, in addition to existing global markets and infrastructure for storage, distribution and utilization in a wide range of applications. Consequently, propane is an attractive target product in research aimed at developing new renewable alternatives to complement currently used petroleum-derived fuels. This study focuses on the construction and evaluation of alternative microbial biosynthetic pathways for the production of renewable propane. The new pathways utilize CoA intermediates that are derived from clostridial-like fermentative butanol pathways and are therefore distinct from the first microbial propane pathways recently engineered in Escherichia coli.

Concepts: Gasoline, Petroleum, Escherichia coli, Hydrocarbon, Natural gas, Combustion, Fuel, Propane


Quantitative information regarding the endmember composition of the gas and oil that flowed from the Macondo well during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is essential for determining the oil flow rate, total oil volume released, and trajectories and fates of hydrocarbon components in the marine environment. Using isobaric gas-tight samplers, we collected discrete samples directly above the Macondo well on June 21, 2010, and analyzed the gas and oil. We found that the fluids flowing from the Macondo well had a gas-to-oil ratio of 1,600 standard cubic feet per petroleum barrel. Based on the measured endmember gas-to-oil ratio and the Federally estimated net liquid oil release of 4.1 million barrels, the total amount of C(1)-C(5) hydrocarbons released to the water column was 1.7 10(11) g. The endmember gas and oil compositions then enabled us to study the fractionation of petroleum hydrocarbons in discrete water samples collected in June 2010 within a southwest trending hydrocarbon-enriched plume of neutrally buoyant water at a water depth of 1,100 m. The most abundant petroleum hydrocarbons larger than C(1)-C(5) were benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and total xylenes at concentrations up to 78 μg L(-1). Comparison of the endmember gas and oil composition with the composition of water column samples showed that the plume was preferentially enriched with water-soluble components, indicating that aqueous dissolution played a major role in plume formation, whereas the fates of relatively insoluble petroleum components were initially controlled by other processes.

Concepts: Fluid dynamics, Gasoline, Petroleum, Benzene, Liquid, Hydrocarbon, Natural gas, Oil


Nearly one hundred years ago, the fermentative production of acetone by Clostridium acetobutylicum provided a crucial alternative source of this solvent for manufacture of the explosive cordite. Today there is a resurgence of interest in solventogenic Clostridium species to produce n-butanol and ethanol for use as renewable alternative transportation fuels. Acetone, a product of acetone-n-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation, harbours a nucleophilic α-carbon, which is amenable to C-C bond formation with the electrophilic alcohols produced in ABE fermentation. This functionality can be used to form higher-molecular-mass hydrocarbons similar to those found in current jet and diesel fuels. Here we describe the integration of biological and chemocatalytic routes to convert ABE fermentation products efficiently into ketones by a palladium-catalysed alkylation. Tuning of the reaction conditions permits the production of either petrol or jet and diesel precursors. Glyceryl tributyrate was used for the in situ selective extraction of both acetone and alcohols to enable the simple integration of ABE fermentation and chemical catalysis, while reducing the energy demand of the overall process. This process provides a means to selectively produce petrol, jet and diesel blend stocks from lignocellulosic and cane sugars at yields near their theoretical maxima.

Concepts: Alcohol, Carbon dioxide, Acetone, Gasoline, Ethanol, Clostridium acetobutylicum, Chaim Weizmann, Petroleum


BACKGROUND: Several studies have linked biomass cooking fuel with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm births, low birth weight and post-neonatal infant mortality, but very few have studied the associations with cooking fuel independent of other factors associated with stillbirths. METHOD: We analyzed the data from 188,917 ever-married women aged 15-49 included in India’s 2003-2004 District Level Household Survey-II to investigate the association between household use of cooking fuels (liquid petroleum gas/electricity, kerosene, biomass) and risk of stillbirth. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were obtained using Poisson regression with robust standard errors after controlling for several potentially confounding factors (socio-demographic and maternal health characteristics). RESULTS: Risk factors significantly associated with occurrence of stillbirth in the Poisson regression with robust standard errors model were: literacy status of the mother and father, lighting fuel and cooking fuel used, gravida status, history of previous abortion, whether the woman had an antenatal check up, age at last pregnancy >35 years, labor complications, bleeding complications, fetal and other complications, prematurity and home delivery. After controlling the effect of these factors, women who cook with firewood (PR 1.24; 95% CI: 1.08-1.41, p=0.003) or kerosene (PR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.10-1.67, p=0.004) were more likely to have experienced a stillbirth than those who cook with LPG/electricity. Kerosene lamp use was also associated with stillbirths compared to electric lighting (PR 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06-1.25, p=0.001). The population attributable risk of firewood as cooking fuel for stillbirths in India was 11% and 1% for kerosene cooking. CONCLUSION: Biomass and kerosene cooking fuels are associated with stillbirth occurrence in this population sample. Assuming these associations are causal, about 12% of stillbirths in India could be prevented by providing access to cleaner cooking fuel.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Demography, Gasoline, Petroleum, Obstetrics, Abortion