The Preparation of Ethyl Levulinate Facilitated by Flow Processing: The Catalyzed and Uncatalyzed Esterification of Levulinic Acid

    Meghan P. Negus1, Andrew C. Mansfield2, Nicholas E. Leadbeater1

    • 1 Department of Chemistry, University of Connecticut, 55 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT 06269, United States
    • 2 Vapourtec Ltd., Park Farm Business Centre, Bury St. Edmunds IP28 6TS, United Kingdom
    • 3 Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, University of Connecticut Health Center, The Exchange, 263 Farmington Ave, Farmington, CT 06030, United States

    The catalyzed and uncatalyzed preparation of ethyl levulinate from levulinic acid and ethanol is presented. In the case of acid-catalyzed reactions, conditions were optimized in batch using microwave heating and then scaled-up using continuousflow processing. Both p-toluenesulfonic acid and sulfuric acid were used as catalysts, the latter proving most amenable. For the uncatalyzed reactions, all reactions were performed under continuous-flow conditions, using apparatus capable of operating at high temperature and pressure. Optimal conditions for the uncatalyzed process required heating a 3.6-M solution of levulinic acid in ethanol at 270 °C with a residence time of 30 min.

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