Biodiesel was efficiently produced from biomass fatty acids using renewable gas H2 and a reusable heterogeneous catalyst under low-energy-consumption microwave conditions. As the decarboxylation of fatty acids to alkanes is an important transformation in the production of bio hydrofined diesel (BHD) and jet fuel, we herein report the development of a highly active and reusable Rh nanoparticle catalyst supported by a silicon nanowire array (SiNA-Rh) and its application in the decarboxylation of fatty acids to alkanes under mild conditions. More specifically, SiNA-Rh (500 mol ppm) selectively promoted the hydrogenative decarboxylation reaction at 200 °C under microwave irradiation (∼40 W) in a H2 atmosphere (10 bar) to afford the corresponding alkanes in high yields selectively. The only coproduct observed was carbon monoxide, an important and essential staple for the chemical industry. Importantly, carbon dioxide formation was not observed. Moreover, the aldehydes were efficiently converted to alkanes by SiNA-Rh, and this catalyst was reused 20 times without any loss in catalytic activity. Finally, to investigate the effects of microwave irradiation on the enhancement of this chemical transformation based on the Si nanorod structures present in the SiNA-Rh catalyst, the effect of the microwave electric field and magnetic field in the microwave to the reaction was experimentally investigated, and the spatial distribution of the electric field intensity around the surface of the Si nanostructure was simulated using the finite element method.
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