Issue 20, 2021

Vapor-phase conversion of aqueous 3-hydroxybutyric acid and crotonic acid to propylene over solid acid catalysts

Abstract

Diverse sources of wastewater organic carbon can be microbially funneled into biopolymers like polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) that can be further valorized by conversion to hydrocarbon fuels and industrial chemicals. We report the vapor-phase dehydration and decarboxylation of PHB-derived monomer acids, 3-hydroxybutyric acid (3HB) and crotonic acid (CA), in water to propylene over solid acid catalysts using a packed-bed continuous-flow reactor. Propylene yields increase with increased Brønsted acidity of catalysts, with amorphous silica–alumina and niobium phosphate yielding 52 and 60 %C (percent feedstock carbon, max 75 %C) of feedstock 3HB and CA, respectively; additional products include CO2 and retro-aldol products (acetaldehyde and acetic acid). Deactivation studies indicate progressive and permanent steam deactivation of amorphous silica–alumina, while re-calcination partially recovers niobium phosphate activity. Experiments demonstrating sustained reactor operation over niobium phosphate provide a promising technology pathway for increasing valorization of organic-rich wastewater.

Graphical abstract: Vapor-phase conversion of aqueous 3-hydroxybutyric acid and crotonic acid to propylene over solid acid catalysts

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
Paper
Submitted
29 Jun 2021
Accepted
29 Aug 2021
First published
07 Sep 2021

Catal. Sci. Technol., 2021,11, 6866-6876

Vapor-phase conversion of aqueous 3-hydroxybutyric acid and crotonic acid to propylene over solid acid catalysts

S. Leow, A. J. Koehler, L. E. Cronmiller, X. Huo, G. D. Lahti, Y. Li, G. R. Hafenstine, D. R. Vardon and T. J. Strathmann, Catal. Sci. Technol., 2021, 11, 6866 DOI: 10.1039/D1CY01152A

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