Authors: Lopez-Aguado, C; Paniagua, M; Melero, JA; Iglesias, J; Juarez, P; Granados, ML; Morales, G

Catalysts. vol: 10. page: .
Date: JUN. 2020.
Doi: 10.3390/catal10060678.

The one-pot conversion of biomass-derived platform molecules such as levulinic acid (LA) and furfural (FAL) into gamma-valerolactone (GVL) is challenging because of the need for adequate multi-functional catalysts and high-pressure gaseous hydrogen. As a more sustainable alternative, here we describe the transfer hydrogenation of LA to GVL using isopropanol as a hydrogen donor over a Zr-modified beta zeolite catalyst in a continuous fixed-bed reactor. A stable sustained production of GVL was achieved from the levulinic acid, with both high LA conversion (ca. 95%) and GVL yield (ca. 90%), for over at least 20 days in continuous operation at 170 degrees C. Importantly, the small decay in activity can be advantageously overcome by the means of a simple in situ thermal regeneration in the air atmosphere, leading to a complete recovery of the catalyst activity. Key to this outstanding result is the use of a Zr-modified dealuminated beta zeolite with a tailored Lewis/Bronsted acid sites ratio, which can synergistically catalyze the tandem steps of hydrogen transfer and acid-catalyzed transformations, leading to such a successful and stable production of GVL from LA..