An Overview of the Obtaining of Biomass-derived Gamma-valerolactone from Levulinic Acid or Esters without H2 Supply

Giselle González, Maria Cristina Area


Gamma-valerolactone (GVL) is a highly reactive keto-lactone and a promising platform biomolecule, used as an additive for food and fuels, green solvent, and fuels precursor, among others. Its production from biomass usually involves hydrogenation and subsequent cyclization of levulinic acid or its esters. The process of conventional hydrogenation requires high pressures and temperatures, an external hydrogen source, and scarce noble/precious materials as catalysts. However, it could be produced under mild conditions, using bifunctional metal-acid catalysts with high metal dispersion and meso or microporosity, high surface area, temperatures lower than 200 °C, pressures ≤ 1MPa, and secondary alcohols (such as isopropanol) as hydrogen donors. The catalytic transfer hydrogenation followed by cyclization (CTHC) of levulinic acid (LA) and its esters (LE) to produce GVL using secondary alcohols as H donor is a great alternative. Variables involved in CTHC such as raw material, time, temperature, and type of catalyst, mainly transition metals and their combinations, are reviewed in this work.


Biorefinery; Catalytic transfer hydrogenation; Gamma-valerolactone; Heterogeneous catalysis; Transition metals; Levulinic acid; Levulinic esters

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