Microwave-assisted synthesis of levulinic acid from low-cost, sustainable feedstocks using organic acids as green catalysts


BACKGROUND: Modern day scientific endeavour strives towards global sustainability through the smart utilisation of renewable resources as base materials for chemicals. Until now, the most common commercial process to produce levulinic acid (a mass-produced platform chemical) depends on a two-stage mineral acid-catalysed reaction, which generates harmful environmental waste. In this work, an environmentally friendly levulinic acid production route using less harmful organic acids assisted by microwave heating from biomass feedstocks is reported for the first time. RESULTS: Using aluminum sulfate as a green Lewis acid catalyst and seven organic acids, levulinic acid was successfully produced from barley straw under microwave heating, with maleic acid giving the highest catalytic conversion. A Response Surface Methodology (RSM) approach was used to rapidly and effectively examine the effect of five reaction variables on the productivity of the levulinic acid. A wide range of different biomass wastes (barley straw, brewery waste, olive cake, spent tea leaves and potato, tomato, and mandarin peels) were subsequently screened to produce the levulinic acid. The highest yield of 86 wt% based on cellulose content from mandarin peel (a value comparable to a lengthier ‘non-green’ route) was achieved under the following optimized reaction conditions: 180 °C, 38 min, 2 M maleic acid concentration, 0.1 g Al 2(SO 4) 3 and 1:22 biomass: maleic acid ratio (g mL −1). CONCLUSIONS: The proposed method is a promising new route towards the green, high yield production of levulinic acid from a variety of agricultural and household lignocellulosic biomass wastes, without the need for pre-treatment.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jctb.6484
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR)
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering > Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI)
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Aston Polymer Research Group
Additional Information: CC BY
Uncontrolled Keywords: biomass conversion,cellulose hydrolysis,green catalysts,levulinic acid production,lignocellulosic feedstocks,microwave heating,Biotechnology,Chemical Engineering(all),Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment,Fuel Technology,Waste Management and Disposal,Pollution,Organic Chemistry,Inorganic Chemistry
Publication ISSN: 1097-4660
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 08:39
Date Deposited: 20 May 2020 11:40
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://onlinel ... .1002/jctb.6484 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-08-01
Published Online Date: 2020-05-18
Accepted Date: 2020-05-09
Authors: Topham, Paul (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-4152-6976)
Aliko, Kinana
Osatiashtiani, Amin (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-1334-127X)
Doudin, Khalid (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3604-9861)
Wang, Jiawei (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5690-9107)
Theodosiou, Eirini (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-7068-4434)



Version: Accepted Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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