(281e) Single Step Conversion of Short Carboxylic Acid Mixtures Obtained from Fermentation to Aromatics and α-Olefins over a Cu/ZrO2 Catalyst
In this work, short carboxylic acids obtainable from a fermentation process were converted into aromatic compounds and/or alpha-olefins in a single step catalytic process with a near theoretical carbon yield. The experiments were carried out from 623 K to 673 K under hydrogen atmosphere using Cu/ZrO2 catalyst. The combination of copper and zirconia oxide allowed full conversion of carboxylic acids via cascade C-C coupling reactions resulting in higher molecular weight (C8-C15) products, which form a water immiscible organic phase, and light alpha-olefins in the gas phase. Remaining oxygen functionalities are selectively removed by hydrogenation-dehydration reactions over copper while avoiding the hydrogenation of unsaturated C-C bonds reducing hydrogen consumption. Moreover, by tuning reaction conditions, selectivity can be controlled to favor the increased production of short alpha-olefins or heavier products.