Supported copper catalysts for highly efficient hydrogenation of biomass-derived levulinic acid and γ-valerolactone†
Levulinic acid (LA) is one of the most significant cellulose-derived compounds. γ-Valerolactone (GVL) and 1,4-pentanediol (1,4-PDO) are considered to be important chemical intermediates. Direct conversion of LA to GVL and GVL to 1,4-PDO was achieved via chemoselective hydrogenation by supported copper catalysts. We studied the transformation of LA to GVL in water and alcohol, and the pathway of the reaction was also studied. LA was converted to GVL catalyzed by the Cu (30%)-WO3 (10%)/ZrO2-CP-300 catalyst at 413 K in ethanol with 81% yield, while 84% GVL was obtained with the Cu (30%)/ZrO2-OG-300 catalyst in water at 393 K. Furthermore, 1,4-PDO was produced from GVL in excellent selectivities (>90%) using the Cu-TiO2/ZrO2-CP-600 catalyst.