Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 2, 2008
Previous Article Next Article

γ-Valerolactone—a sustainable liquid for energy and carbon-based chemicals

Author affiliations


We propose that γ-valerolactone (GVL), a naturally occurring chemical in fruits and a frequently used food additive, exhibits the most important characteristics of an ideal sustainable liquid, which could be used for the production of both energy and carbon-based consumer products. GVL is renewable, easy and safe to store and move globally in large quantities, has low melting (−31 °C), high boiling (207 °C) and open cup flash (96 °C) points, a definitive but acceptable smell for easy recognition of leaks and spills, and is miscible with water, assisting biodegradation. We have established that its vapor pressure is remarkably low, even at higher temperatures (3.5 kPa at 80 °C). We have also shown by using 18O-labeled water that GVL does not hydrolyze to gamma-hydroxypentanoic acid under neutral conditions. In contrast, after the addition of acid (HCl) the incorporation of one or two 18O-isotopes to GVL was observed, as expected. GVL does not form a measurable amount of peroxides in a glass flask under air in weeks, making it a safe material for large scale use. Comparative evaluation of GVL and ethanol as fuel additives, performed on a mixture of 10 v/v% GVL or EtOH and 90 v/v% 95-octane gasoline, shows very similar properties. Since GVL does not form an azeotrope with water, the latter can be readily removed by distillation, resulting in a less energy demanding process for the production of GVL than that of absolute ethanol. Finally, it is also important to recognize that the use of a single chemical entity, such as GVL, as a sustainable liquid instead of a mixture of compounds, could significantly simplify its worldwide monitoring and regulation.

Graphical abstract: γ-Valerolactone—a sustainable liquid for energy and carbon-based chemicals

Back to tab navigation

Article information

21 Aug 2007
13 Nov 2007
First published
04 Dec 2007

Green Chem., 2008,10, 238-242
Article type

γ-Valerolactone—a sustainable liquid for energy and carbon-based chemicals

I. T. Horváth, H. Mehdi, V. Fábos, L. Boda and L. T. Mika, Green Chem., 2008, 10, 238
DOI: 10.1039/B712863K

Social activity

Search articles by author