Efficient conversion of levulinic acid into alkyl levulinates catalyzed by sulfonic mesostructured silicas
Sulfonic mesoporous silicas have demonstrated an outstanding catalytic performance in the esterification of levulinic acid with different alcohols to produce alkyl levulinates, a family of chemicals considered to be excellent oxygenated fuel extenders for gasoline, diesel and biodiesel. Catalyst screening indicated that propylsulfonic acid-modified SBA-15 material was the most active one, among tested materials, due to a combination of moderately strong sulfonic acid sites with relative high surface hydrophobicity. Under optimized reaction conditions (T = 117 ºC, ethanol/levulinic acid molar ratio = 4.86/1 and catalyst/levulinic acid = 7 wt.% ) almost 100% of levulinic acid conversion was achieved after 2 h of reaction, being negligible the presence of levulinic acid by-products or ethers coming from intermolecular dehydration of alcohols. The catalyst has been reused, without any regeneration treatment, up to three times keeping almost the high initial activity. Interestingly, a close catalytic performance to that achieved using ethanol has been obtained with bulkier alcohols.
Línea Investigación: Línea 8. Producción de biocombustibles
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