In silico design of bio-based commodity chemicals: application to itaconic acid based solvents
Global issues are deeply changing the face of the chemical industry. Both the feedstock – biomass vs. oil – and the chemical transformations used are now chosen to comply with a sustainable development. In this work, a computer-assisted organic synthesis program, named GRASS (GeneratoR of Agro-based Sustainable Solvents), is proposed to help in the design of sustainable solvents from biomass feedstock. A careful selection of industrially relevant chemical transformations has been performed to propose a set that allows obtaining in a few steps (1 to 3) a large number of commodity chemicals from a chosen set of bio-based building-blocks. Emphasis has been put on solvents since this type of compound is undergoing a deep renewal due to more stringent regulatory constraints, but the same approach may be extended to other commodity chemicals. This methodology has been exemplified starting from itaconic acid, a multifunctional bio-based building block. We checked a posteriori that all itaconic acid based-solvents reported in the literature do indeed belong to the set of virtual solvents generated by GRASS, along with an extended list of new derivatives that could be of potential interest.