Benzenesulfonic acid functionalized hydrophobic mesoporous biochar as an efficient catalyst for the production of biofuel

Huan Li, Qiang Deng, Hao Chen, Xinxiang Cao, Jing Zheng, Yao Zhong, Peixin Zhang, Jun Wang, Zheling Zeng, Shuguang Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Catalytic esterification of fatty acid with methanol, alkylation of 4-ethylphenol with benzyl alcohol as well as 2-methylfuran with cyclopentanone are of great significant for the production of biofuels. However, the in-situ produced water decreases the acidity of catalyst and induces side reaction, leading to an unsatisfactory catalytic activity and selectivity. Herein, a novel biochar-based hydrophobic benzenesulfonic acid is prepared for the first time by one-pot sulfonation method of biochar with 4-chlorobenzenesulfonic acid. It has a large specific surface area of 100-400 m2/g, a hydrophobicity with H2O contact angle higher than 110° and a high concentration of sulfonic acid over 1.0 mmol/g. In the esterification reaction of fatty acid with methanol for synthesis of biodiesel, it shows a higher conversion of 96.0% than sulfonic acid resin amberlyst-15 (86.7%) and traditional sulfonated biochar-SO3H (28.0%). In the alkylation reaction of 4-ethylphenol with phenylmethanol/2-methylfuran with cyclopentanone for high-density bicyclic/monocyclic biofuel, its catalytic efficiency with target product yields are 69.4% and 70.5% respectively, which are also higher than that of amberlyst-15 (74.3%, 49.4%) and biochar-SO3H (14.7%, 13.0%). Furthermore, the catalyst is more stable than biochar-SO3H. The preparation of hydrophobic biochar-based sulfonic acid catalysts not only opens a new way for high-value utilization of biochar, but also provides a novel efficient catalyst in many acid-catalyzed transformation reactions that the product H2O causes deleterious effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-185
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
StatePublished - Jun 25 2019


  • Alkylation
  • Benzenesulfonic acid
  • Biochar
  • Biofuel
  • Esterification
  • Hydrophobicity-oleophilicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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