Upgrading Bio-Platform Molecules in the Gas-Phase: From Levulinic Acid to Bio-Chemicals

Blair Vasquez, Paola (2021) Upgrading Bio-Platform Molecules in the Gas-Phase: From Levulinic Acid to Bio-Chemicals, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Chimica, 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9553.
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Levulinic acid (LA) is a polyfunctional molecule obtained from biomass. Because of its structure, the United States Department of energy classified LA as one of the top 12 building block chemicals. Typically, it is valorized through chemical reduction to γ-valerolactone (GVL). It is usually done with H2 in batch systems with high H2 pressures and noble metal catalysts, making it expensive and less applicable. Therefore, alternative approaches such as catalytic transfer hydrogenation (CTH) through the Meerwein–Ponndorf–Verley (MPV) reaction over heterogeneous catalysts have been studied. This uses organic molecules (alcohols) which act as a hydride transfer agent (H-donor), to reduce molecules containing carbonyl groups. Given the stability of the intermediate, reports have shown the batch liquid-phase CTH of levulinate esters with secondary alcohols, and remarkable results (GVL yield) have been obtained over ZrO2, given the need of a Lewis acid (LASites) and base pair for CTH. However, there were no reports of the continuous gas-phase CTH of levulinate esters. Therefore, high surface area ZrO2 was tested for gas-phase CTH of methyl levulinate (ML) using ethanol, methanol and isopropanol as H-donors. Under optimized conditions with ethanol (250 ℃), the reaction is selective towards GVL (yield 70%). However, heavy carbonaceous materials over the catalyst surface progressively blocked LASites changing the chemoselectivity. The in situ regeneration of the catalyst permitted a partial recovery of the LASites and an almost total recovery of the initial catalytic behavior, proving the deactivation reversible. Tests with methanol were not promising (ML conversion 35%, GVL yield 4%). As expected, using isopropanol provided complete conversion and a GVL yield of 80%. The reaction was also tested using bioethanol derived from agricultural waste. In addition, a preliminary study was performed for the hydrogenolysis of polyols to produce bioethanol, were Pd-Fe catalyst promoted the ethanol selective (37%) hydrogenolysis of glycerol.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Blair Vasquez, Paola
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
catalytic transfer hydrogenation, alkyl levulinates, GVL, heterogeneous catalysis, ZrO2, H-Transfer, Zirconia, Bioethanol, Gas-phase, Continuous flow
Data di discussione
26 Gennaio 2021

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