AIMS Energy, 2017, 5(2): 149-162. doi: 10.3934/energy.2017.2.149.

Research article

Export file:


  • RIS(for EndNote,Reference Manager,ProCite)
  • BibTex
  • Text


  • Citation Only
  • Citation and Abstract

Dehydration of n-propanol and methanol to produce etherified fuel additives

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, Texas A&M University, College Station TX, 303C Scoates Hall, 2117 TAMU, USA

An ether is an organic compound that consists of an oxygen atom bonded to two alkyl or aryl groups. In this work, we investigate the bimolecular dehydration of two alcohols, n-propanol and methanol with catalysts that are used in transesterification. Experiments were carried out to evaluate the feasibility of promoting etherification reaction using methanol and n-propanol as model alcohols. When methanol and n-propanol are reacted together, three types of ethers can be produced; i.e., dimethyl ether, methyl-propyl ether (also referred to as methoxypropane), and di-propyl ether. The latter two ethers are of more fuel interest due to their ability to stay in liquid phase at room temperature; however, the ability of catalysts to selectively produce liquid ethers is not established. Initial studies were conducted to discern the effect of sulfuric acid, amberlyst-36 and titanium isopropoxide, catalysts that are known to be effective for transesterification, at four levels of temperature on the substrate conversion, ether yield and selectivity using n-propanol. Subsequent studies with n-propanol and methanol additionally looked at the impact of select catalyst concentrations and reaction conditions. Studies indicate that liquid mixtures of 1-methoxypropane and di-propyl ethers could be formed by reacting n-propanol and methanol in the presence of sulfuric acid or Amberlyst 36. Higher concentrations of sulfuric acid (5% w/w) coupled with higher temperatures (>140 °C) favored substrate conversion and ether yields. However, it was revealed that the selectivity toward specific ethers, i.e., coupling of the two larger alcohols to produce di-propyl ether vs larger one with the smaller one to produce methoxypropane could be controlled by appropriate selection of the catalyst. We anticipate the results being a starting point for a simple technique to produce specific ethers using a mixture of alcohols that could be applied for applications such as transesterification byproduct utilization.
  Article Metrics

Keywords methanol propanol; etherification; dehydration; sulfuric acid; Amberlyst-36; titanium isopropoxide

Citation: Husam Almashhadani, Nalin Samarasinghe, Sandun Fernando. Dehydration of n-propanol and methanol to produce etherified fuel additives. AIMS Energy, 2017, 5(2): 149-162. doi: 10.3934/energy.2017.2.149


  • 1. Bettelheim FA, Brown WH, Campbell MK, et al., Introduction to general, organic and biochemistry: Nelson Education, 2012.
  • 2. Gold V, Loening K, McNaught A, et al. (1997) Iupac compendium of chemical terminology. Blackwell Science, Oxford.
  • 3. Hemming K (2001) Organic Chemistry. Oxford University Press. Chemical educator 6: 396-398.
  • 4. Condon FE, Meislich H (1960) Introduction to organic chemistry. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • 5. Özmen D (2007) (Liquid+ liquid) equilibria of (water+ propionic acid+ dipropyl ether or diisopropyl ether) at T = 298.2 K. J Chem Thermodyn 39: 123-127.    
  • 6. Chafer A, Burguet M, Monton J, et al. (2007) Liquid–liquid equilibria of the systems dipropyl ether+n-propanol+ water and dipropyl ether+n-propanol+ ethylene glycol at different temperatures. Fluid Phase Equilibr 262: 76-81.    
  • 7. Sykes C (1949) Methyl N-Propyl Ether. Br med j 2: 420.    
  • 8. Rees G, Gray TC (1950) Methyl-n-propyl ether. Brit j anaesth 22: 83-91.    
  • 9. Pilcher G, Pell A, Coleman D (1964) Measurements of heats of combustion by flame calorimetry. Part 2.—Dimethyl ether, methyl ethyl ether, methyl n-propyl ether, methyl isopropyl ether. Trans Faraday Soc 60: 499-505.
  • 10. Elvers, B (2003) Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Electronic Release, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim.
  • 11. Varisli D, Dogu T, Dogu G (2007) Ethylene and diethyl-ether production by dehydration reaction of ethanol over different heteropolyacid catalysts. Chem Eng Sci 62: 5349-5352.    
  • 12. Pérez M, Bringué R, Iborra M, et al. (2014) Ion exchange resins as catalysts for the liquid-phase dehydration of 1-butanol to di-n-butyl ether. Appl Catal A-Gen 482: 38-48.    
  • 13. Feng W, van der Kooi HJ, de Swaan Arons J (2004) Phase equilibria for biomass conversion processes in subcritical and supercritical water. Chem Eng J 98: 105-113.    
  • 14. Lietti L, Sun Q, Herman RG, et al. (1996) Kinetic evaluation of the direct synthesis of ethers from alcohols over sulfonated resin catalysts. Catal today 27: 151-158.    
  • 15. Carey FA (1996) Organic chemistry. Nova York: The Mac-Graw Hill Companies 7.
  • 16. Corma A, Garcia H (2003) Lewis acids: from conventional homogeneous to green homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. Chem Rev 103: 4307-4366.    
  • 17. Herrmann WA, Kohlpaintner CW (1993) Water Soluble Ligands, Metal Complexes, and Catalysts: Synergism of Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis. Angew Chem Int Edit 32: 1524-1544.    
  • 18. Farnetti E, Di Monte R, Kašpar J (2009) HOMOGENEOUS AND HETEROGENEOUS CATALYSIS. Inorganic and Bio-Inorganic Chemistry-Volume II 6: 50.
  • 19. Pilling MJ, Seakins PW (1996) Reaction kinetics: Oxford University Press.
  • 20. Tariq M, Ali S, Khalid N (2012) Activity of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts, spectroscopic and chromatographic characterization of biodiesel: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 16: 6303-6316.    
  • 21. Siril P, Cross HE, Brown D (2008) New polystyrene sulfonic acid resin catalysts with enhanced acidic and catalytic properties. J Mol Catal A-Chem 279: 63-68.    
  • 22. Badia J, Fité C, Bringué R, et al. (2015) Catalytic Activity and Accessibility of Acidic Ion-Exchange Resins in Liquid Phase Etherification Reactions. Top Catal 58: 919-932.    


This article has been cited by

  • 1. Mustapha Mokhtari, Leila Kharbouche, Hadj Hamaizi, Catalytic Dehydration of 1-Propanol Over Silica Containing Sulfonic Acid Groups, Materials Research, 2019, 22, 3, 10.1590/1980-5373-mr-2018-0690

Reader Comments

your name: *   your email: *  

Copyright Info: 2017, Sandun Fernando, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (

Download full text in PDF

Export Citation

Copyright © AIMS Press All Rights Reserved