Process study, simulation and optimization of direct conversion of biomass to ethyl evulinate

Increasing concerns about global warming related to greenhouse emission, and depletion of fossil fuel resources, bring biomass as a promising environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to supply chemicals and fuels. One attractive option is the conversion of biomass obtained from recycling activities to high-value chemicals. In this context, direct biomass conversion to ethyl levulinate (EL) was successfully demonstrated [1] in a small batch reactor through a one-step acid-catalyzed biomass hydrolysis-esterification process to EL using 1, 2-dichloroethane (DCE), in the objective of obtaining an economical process. EL has prevalent applications in the fragrance and the flavour industries and is used as an additive for diesel and biodiesel [2,3,4].
A probable and proposed reaction pathway for the reaction comprises three subsequent steps including 1) hydrolysis of glucose to 5-chloromethyl furfural (CMF), then 2) hydration of CMF to levulinic acid (LA) and formic acid (FA) and finally 3) esterification of LA and FA to EL and ethyl formate (EF) [1, 3, and 4].

Joanne Woloszyn
Faculty Supervisor: 
Clémence Fauteux-Lefebvre
Partner University: