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Streamlining the production of GVL from biomass; benefit for production of renewable liquid fuels and chemicals

The production of so-called valeric biofuels—derived from the acid hydrolysis of lignocellulose to levulinic acid, followed by hydrogenation to γ-valerolactone (GVL), and hydrogenation to valeric acid and subsequent esterification—is of increasing interest. (Earlier post.)

Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai report on an efficient alcohol-mediated reactive extraction strategy by which a hydrophobic mixture of butyl levulinate and formate esters, derived from cellulosic biomass, can be converted to GVL by a simple supported gold catalyst system without need of an external hydrogen source.

The essential role of the supported gold is to facilitate the rapid and selective decomposition of butyl formate to produce a hydrogen stream, which enables the highly effective reduction of butyl levulinate into GVL. This protocol simplifies the recovery and recycling of sulfuric acid, which is used for cellulose deconstruction.

—Du et al.

Source: Du et al. Click to enlarge.

Their paper is published in the journal ChemSusChem.


  • Xian-Long Du, Qing-Yuan Bi, Dr. Yong-Mei Liu, Prof. Yong Cao, Prof. Kang-Nian Fan (2011) Conversion of Biomass-Derived Levulinate and Formate Esters into γ-Valerolactone over Supported Gold Catalysts. ChemSusChem. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201100483


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