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Designing effective solid catalysts for biomass conversion: aerobic oxidation of ethyl lactate to ethyl pyruvate

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Abstract

The direct oxidative dehydrogenation of lactates with molecular oxygen is a promising route for producing bio-based pyruvates. But practical implementation of this route means high yields and mild conditions, which in turn require expensive noble-metal catalysts. Here we report a novel catalytic approach for efficient conversion of ethyl lactate to ethyl pyruvate. We show that vanadia supported on activated carbon acts synergistically with homogeneous pyridine-type additives, giving high conversion and selectivity. Control experiments and simulations show that the reaction follows a two-step pathway: first, the pyridine–lactate complex forms, followed by transfer to the vanadium active site where the oxidation occurs. Building on these results, we design a new solid catalyst where the vanadia sites are impregnated on a pyridine-rich carbonaceous support made from poly(4-vinylpyridine). This catalyst, made from abundant elements, combines the advantages of the homogeneous pyridine additive and the vanadia active site. This combination lowers the local mass-transfer barriers and improves the stability. The catalyst gives over 90% selectivity at 80% conversion at 130 °C and 1 atm oxygen, and can be reused at least five times without losing activity.

Graphical abstract: Designing effective solid catalysts for biomass conversion: aerobic oxidation of ethyl lactate to ethyl pyruvate

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Jan 2018, accepted on 08 Feb 2018 and first published on 09 Feb 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8GC00032H
Citation: Green Chem., 2018, Advance Article
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    Designing effective solid catalysts for biomass conversion: aerobic oxidation of ethyl lactate to ethyl pyruvate

    W. Zhang, B. Ensing, G. Rothenberg and N. Raveendran Shiju, Green Chem., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8GC00032H

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