Continuous flow hydrogenation of methyl and ethyl levulinate: An alternative route to g-valerolactone production

József M. Tukacs, Áron Sylvester, Ildikó Kmecz, Richard V. Jones, M. Óvári, László T. Mika

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Heterogeneous continuous transformation of methyl levulinate (ML) and ethyl levulinate (EL) to g-valerolactone (GVL), as a promising C5-platform molecule was studied at 1008C. It was proved that the H-Cubew continuous hydrogenation system equipped with 5% Ru/C CatCartw is suitable for the reduction of both levulinate esters. While excellent conversion rates (greater than 99.9%) of ML and EL could be achieved in water and corresponding alcohols, the selectivities of GVL were primarily affected by the solvent used. In water, 100% conversion and ca 50% selectivity that represent ca 0.45 molGVL gmetal21 h21 productivity towards GVL, were obtained under 100 bar of total system pressure. The application of alcohols as a solvent, which maintained high conversion rates up to 1 ml min-1 flow rate, resulted in lower productivities (less than 0.2 molGVL gmetal21 h21) of GVL. Therefore, from a synthesis point of view, the corresponding 4-hydroxyvalerate esters could be obtained even at a higher reaction rate. The addition of sulfonated triphenylphosphine ligand (TPPTS) allowed reduction of the system pressure and resulted in the higher selectivity towards GVL.

Original languageEnglish
Article number182233
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2019



  • Flow chemistry
  • G-valerolactone
  • Heterogeneous catalysis
  • Hydrogenation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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