New Process for Conversion of Levulinic Acid to -Valerolactone without External Hydrogen; Intermediary for Biomass-Derived Fuels and Chemicals

Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences have demonstrated the conversion of levulinic acid (LA) to γ-valerolactone (GVL) by heterogeneous catalysts without using external hydrogen. A paper on their work appeared online 24 September in the journal ChemSusChem.

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Credit: ChemSusChem. Click to enlarge.

GVL has previously been identified as a potential feedstock of interest in the production of both fuels and fine chemicals. GVL is conventionally produced by hydrogenation of levulinic acid derived by the simple acid hydrolysis of lignocellulosic feedstock. (Earlier post.)

In February, researchers at the University of Wisconsin, led by Dr. James Dumesic, reported a process to convert aqueous solutions of γ-valerolactone to liquid alkenes in the molecular weight range appropriate for drop-in replacement transportation fuels by using an integrated catalytic system that also does not require an external source of hydrogen or precious metal catalysts. (Earlier post.)

Not requiring hydrogen or precious metal catalysts could contribute to a lower cost for a commercial-scale version of the process than some other renewable hydrocarbon fuel technologies.

The new process reported by the team from China uses a Ru—P/SiO2 bifunctional catalyst that delivers a yield of 96%. Through a two-step process, they report, excellent performance can be achieved in eight recycling runs. No hazardous 2-Me-THF is produced during the process.

Resources

  • Li Deng, Yan Zhao, Jiang Li, Prof. Yao Fu, Prof. Bing Liao, Prof. Qing-Xiang Guo (2010) Conversion of Levulinic Acid and Formic Acid into ?-Valerolactone over Heterogeneous Catalysts. ChemSusChem doi: 10.1002/cssc.201000163


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