Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2022, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (10): 2204045.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202204045

Special Issue: Catalytic Conversion of Biomass

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Approaches for the Synthesis of High-Melting Waxes: A Review

Xueling Lang1,2, Shutao Lei1,2, Bolong Li1,2, Xiaohong Li1,2, Bing Ma1,2,*(), Chen Zhao1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Shanghai Key Laboratory of Green Chemistry and Chemical Processes, School of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2 Institute of Eco-Chongming, Shanghai 202162, China
  • Received:2022-04-25 Accepted:2022-05-16 Published:2022-05-19
  • Contact: Bing Ma,Chen Zhao;
  • About author:Chen Zhao, Email: (C.Z.)
    Bing Ma, Email: (B.M.)
  • Supported by:
    the National Key R & D Program of China(2016YFB0701100)


High-melting hydrocarbon waxes (melting point: > 80 ℃), consisting of saturated alkanes with carbon numbers greater than 40, exhibit unique features including high melting points, high stability, low penetration, high viscosity, as well as good wear resistance and hardness. These features make high-melting waxes suitable for use in foods, cosmetics, materials processing, electronic machinery, national defense, aviation, medical fields, etc. Considering the fast growth of technology and the electronics industry, the world's economy relies on the production and utilization of high-quality high-melting waxes. However, most waxes in the world's current markets are prepared from mineral oils, and such commercial waxes have melting points in the range of 50–70 ℃. Considering the rapid consumption of high-melting waxes and specialty waxes, their supply insufficiency is anticipated to exceed 700000 t. High-melting waxes are divided into polyethylene (PE) wax and Fischer-Tropsch synthesis (FTS) wax, based on synthesis methodology. PE wax can be obtained via the polymerization of ethylene and can also be prepared via the thermal or catalytic cracking of plastics. PE cracking to form waxes, with the advantage of low cost, can effectively solve the problem of "white pollution" and make use of existing catalytic cracking units. However, this process results in high energy consumption to achieve waste polymer depolymerization and exhibits some drawbacks, such as a wide carbon number distribution and high impurity content in the obtained PE waxes. However, there are some new methods for synthesizing PE waxes, such as cross alkane metathesis. The FTS, which uses carbon monoxide and hydrogen as raw materials, realizes the synthesis of waxes through carbon chain growth. Although the high-melting FTS waxes display excellent performance and the technology is gradually maturing, FTS waxes with different melting points are produced by rectification of products with various carbon chain lengths. Nonetheless, PE and FTS waxes are widely used in various industries because of their excellent properties. However, their synthesis is based on petroleum and coal-derived chemical products. Biomass-derived waxes have a narrow melting range due to their precise carbon chain growth process. Based on different application demands, small biomass platform molecules can be functionalized to fabricate biomass-derived waxes with special functions. More importantly, the biomass-based synthesis route is sustainable and in-line with the global values for mitigating carbon dioxide emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. This review discusses the recent advances in the synthesis techniques for high-melting waxes, including PE waxes, FTS waxes, and biomass-derived waxes. Furthermore, the catalysts and reaction mechanisms involved in the synthesis of high-melting waxes are discussed in detail. Finally, the perspectives and trends of high-melting waxes are reviewed to promote the emergence of new processes and technical routes.

Key words: High-melting waxes, Polyethylene-based waxes, Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, Biomass-based waxes, Cracking of polyethylene


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