Catalysis Letter - Nov. 2020

Process Optimization for a Sustainable and Selective Conversion of Fumaric Acid into γ-Butyrolactone Over Pd-Re/SiO2

Adolfo L. Figueredo, Carolina S. Costa, Maitê L. Gothe, Liane M. Rossi, Reinaldo C. Bazito, Pedro Vidinha, Camila G. Pereira


Selective production of γ-butyrolactone (GBL) from the catalytic hydrogenation of fumaric acid is an interesting reaction in the realm of biomass valorization, since GBL can be considered a bio-derived platform molecule. From a green chemistry point of view, water would be the ideal solvent, although accomplishing good conversion and selectivity rates in aqueous media can be challenging for this hydrogenation reaction, even when a suitable catalyst is employed. Herein, this process was optimized through experimental design, using a Pd-Re/SiO2 catalyst and water as solvent. The conversion of fumaric acid was complete, and GBL was produced with 91% selectivity at the pressure and temperature conditions predicted by the empirical model (181 °C and 41 bar, repectively). The experimental design allowed for high selectivity to be obtained in aqueous media by providing better rationalization of the combined effect of the temperature and pressure variables.