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Issue 5, 2013
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Lactic acid as a platform chemical in the biobased economy: the role of chemocatalysis

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Abstract

Upcoming bio-refineries will be at the heart of the manufacture of future transportation fuels, chemicals and materials. A narrow number of platform molecules are envisioned to bridge nature's abundant polysaccharide feedstock to the production of added-value chemicals and intermediate building blocks. Such platform molecules are well-chosen to lie at the base of a large product assortment, while their formation should be straightforward from the refined biomass, practical and energy efficient, without unnecessary loss of carbon atoms. Lactic acid has been identified as one such high potential platform. Despite its established fermentation route, sustainability issues – like gypsum waste and cost factors due to multi-step purification and separation requirements – will arise as soon as the necessary orders of magnitude larger volumes are needed. Innovative production routes to lactic acid and its esters are therefore under development, converting sugars and glycerol in the presence of chemocatalysts. Moreover, catalysis is one of the fundamental routes to convert lactic acid into a range of useful chemicals in a platform approach. This contribution attempts a critical overview of all advances in the field of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis and recognises a great potential of some of these chemocatalytic approaches to produce and transform lactic acid as well as some other promising α-hydroxy acids.

Graphical abstract: Lactic acid as a platform chemical in the biobased economy: the role of chemocatalysis

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Jan 2013, accepted on 06 Mar 2013 and first published on 06 Mar 2013


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE00069A
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2013,6, 1415-1442
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    Lactic acid as a platform chemical in the biobased economy: the role of chemocatalysis

    M. Dusselier, P. Van Wouwe, A. Dewaele, E. Makshina and B. F. Sels, Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 1415
    DOI: 10.1039/C3EE00069A

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