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Peng, L., Li, H., Long, X., Chen, K., and Chen, H. (2014). "Facile and efficient conversion of furfuryl alcohol into n-butyl levulinate catalyzed by extremely low acid concentration," BioRes. 9(3), 3825-3834.


Alkyl levulinates have been identified as promising chemicals with various industrial applications. Here, a catalytic process for the synthesis in an n-butanol medium of n-butyl levulinate via the alcoholysis of biomass-derived furfuryl alcohol was performed using an extremely low concentration of sulfuric acid (≤ 0.01 M) as the catalyst. A study was conducted that was designed to optimize the process variables, which include acid concentration, reaction temperature, initial substrate concentration, and water content, as a function of time. The optimum conditions resulted in a furfuryl alcohol conversion of nearly 100% and a high n-butyl levulinate yield of up to 97%, which was confirmed by isolated yield. An advantage of this catalyst system is that negligible undesired oligomeric products were formed from the side reaction for the polymerization of furfuryl alcohol, the catalyst cost is low, and less solid waste was discharged from the neutralization of spent acid. Overall, this catalytic strategy is a facile, efficient, and economical approach to the conversion of biomass-derived furfuryl alcohol into alkyl levulinates.
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