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Waste paper as greener lighter fluid?

By Canadian Packaging staff   

Design & Innovation Sustainability ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering American Chemical Society eco-friendly lighter fluid gamma valerolatone GVL newsprint waste paper

Researchers have come up with a way to use waste paper and chemicals as a viable greener fuel accelerant.

For all the people who’ve approached their barbecue with trepidation armed with non-eco-friendly lighter fluid to get the charcoal going, researchers in Hong Kong may have the solution for you.

Lighter fluid is of course usually made from crude oil and has a nasty toxic fume emitted when it burns.

István T. Horváth from City University of Hong Kong and his team have an alternative that uses paper waste and newsprint, that is changed into levulinic acid and formic acid after sulfuric acid is added as a catalyst. This is then converted into a compound called GVL (gamma valerolatone).

When burned, GVL does not produce any toxic fumes—no noticeable smoke or odors—when burned as a fuel.


It is a fire accelerant, but GVL but burns slowly… unless ethanol is added, in which case—whoosh!

Tests made by the scientists show a mix of 90 percent GVL and 10 percent ethanol would ignite charcoal in seconds, but emitted 15 percent less volatile organic compounds than the usual lighter fluid.

The ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering journal published by the American Chemical Society released the study HERE.


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