Butyl levulinate (BL) is a promising new candidate as diesel fuel and fuel additive. In this study, an efficient process for a one-pot synthesis of BL from biomass-derived carbohydrates in butanol medium with the catalysis of metal sulfates was developed. The catalytic activity of a series of metal sulfates for the synthesis of BL from fructose was investigated. Among various metal sulfates, ferric sulfate Fe2(SO4)3 was found to be the most efficient catalyst, which gave a remarkably high BL yield of 62.8 mol% under the conditions of 463 K, 3 h, a catalyst dosage of 5.0 g/L, and fructose concentration of 25 g/L. Different carbohydrates including glucose, cellulose, inulin and sucrose were also used for one-pot synthesis of BL with the catalysis of Fe2(SO4)3, showing the yields of 39.6, 30.5, 56.6 and 50.1 mol%, respectively. In addition, the recycling and reuse of Fe2(SO4)3 was studied by characterizing them using powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscope (SEM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). A plausible reaction pathway for the one-pot synthesis of BL from fructose was proposed. This study provides a facile and feasible way for the synthesis of BL from biomass.
An, R., Xu, G., Chang, C., Bai, J., & Fang, S. (2017). Efficient one-pot synthesis of n-butyl levulinate from carbohydrates catalyzed by Fe2(SO4)3. Journal of Energy Chemistry, 26(3), 556–563. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jechem.2016.11.015