Gamma-valerolactone: A sustainable liquid for energy and chemicals

Istvan T. Horvath, Hasan Mehdi, Viktória Fábos, Laszlo Boda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


It was recently proposed [1] that gamma-valerolactone (GVL), a naturally occurring chemical in fruits and a frequently used food additive, exhibits the most important characteristics of an ideal sustainable liquid, which can be used for the production of both energy or carbon-based consumer products. GVL is renewable, easy and safe to store and move globally in large quantities, has low melting (-31°C), high boiling (207°C) and open cup flash (96°C) points, and a definitive but acceptable smell for easy recognition of leaks and spills. GVL is miscible with water assisting biodegradation. We have now established that its vapor pressure is remarkably low even at high temperatures. We have also shown by using 18O-labeled water that GVL does not hydrolyze to gamma-hydroxypentanoic acid under neutral conditions. In contrast, after the addition of HCl the rapid incorporation of 18O-isotopes was observed, as expected. GVL does not form measurable amount of peroxides in a glass flask under air in weeks. The preliminary evaluation of GVL as a fuel additive, performed by adding it to 95-octane gasoline, shows very attractive properties, comparable to bio-ethanol. The development of selective catalytic processes for biomass conversion to gamma-valerolactone will be also discussed. Finally, it is important to recognize that the use of a single chemical entity as a sustainable liquid instead of a mixture of compounds could significantly simplify its worldwide monitoring and regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication234th ACS National Meeting, Abstracts of Scientific Papers
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2007
Event234th ACS National Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Aug 19 2007Aug 23 2007

Publication series

NameACS National Meeting Book of Abstracts
ISSN (Print)0065-7727


Other234th ACS National Meeting
CountryUnited States
CityBoston, MA


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)

Cite this

Horvath, I. T., Mehdi, H., Fábos, V., & Boda, L. (2007). Gamma-valerolactone: A sustainable liquid for energy and chemicals. In 234th ACS National Meeting, Abstracts of Scientific Papers (ACS National Meeting Book of Abstracts).