Greener Synthesis of Automotive Additives

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry


Automotive additives are deployed into fuels, engine and driveline fluids and lubricants to provide improved cleanliness and vehicle performance. These additives make vehicles more environmentally friendly as they deliver improved lubricity and smoother, more efficient running, thus reducing wear and degradation and extending the life of the vehicle. Fuel economy and quality is improved by a carefully designed multifunctional additive package, maximising mileage, and reducing harmful emissions (including detrimental particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide). Their presence in vehicles is inherently sustainable, however the synthesis of certain well-established additives requires unsustainable high temperatures and extensive reaction times. Thus, the goal of this project is to find a greener and more sustainable synthetic route to existing additives, or suitable analogues with an improved environmental footprint. The vast scale of annual production translates to significant projected savings if the reaction temperature could be lowered, in terms of energy, CO2 emissions and financial costs. To ensure successful implementation, savings that could be realised by the new process must outweigh the footprint of implementation, to ensure a lasting sustainable solution.

Proposed solution and methodology

Initial work on this project will focus on reproducing industrial reactivity in the university laboratory environment. In addition, preliminary synthesis and analysis will aim to model the reaction to allow chemo- and regioselectivity to be monitored, as well as measure the efficacy of future catalysts. Two subsequent catalyst screens are proposed, each activating the reaction by a different mechanism. The automotive industry limits the composition of additive products, and as such catalyst recovery strategies, and/or supported catalysts may be vital for commercial potential. The viability of successful catalyst systems will be assessed by financial, green and lifecycle metrics with the help of the project's industrial sponsor. Mechanistic, kinetic and catalyst stability studies will be carried out on promising candidates in the later stages of the project, followed by scaled-up synthesis of the final additives for real-system performance testing. Contingency plans have also been outlined, if the primary catalyst screens do not yield a suitable system. The project will be carried out with regular input and consultation with the industrial sponsorship team.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022236/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
1949535 Studentship EP/S022236/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Jessica Streets