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

Abstract

The direct oxidative dehydrogenation of lactates with molecular oxygen is a promising route for producing biobased 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. The combination lowers local mass–transfer barriers and improves 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.

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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, Accepted Manuscript
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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 R. N. Shiju, Green Chem., 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8GC00032H

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