(24b) Bio-Succinic Acid Production from Tartaric Acid

Fu, J., University of Delaware
Vasiliadou, E., University of Delaware
Saha, B., University of Delaware
Vlachos, D. G., University of Delaware

Fossil fuels are
currently the primary source of energy and chemicals because of their high
availability and energy content.1 However, the
depletion of fossil fuels and environmental problems such as greenhouse gas
emissions have triggered the development of biomass-based technologies, as
biomass is the only source of renewable carbon.2 Those new
technologies also bring novel value added chemicals by utilizing the functional
groups which are already present in biomass molecules.3 Succinic acid (C4H6O4),
a four-carbon dicarboxylic acid, is recognized by the Department of Energy
(DOE) as one of the top biomass-derived platform chemicals.4 Its main
applications include replacement of maleic anhydride as the C4 building block
and synthesis of biodegradable and biobased polymers (Scheme 1).4 The traditional
method for succinic acid production relies on fossil fuels. Fermentation has
been proposed as a renewable alternative, yet low product concentration and
high concentration of organic acid are still drawbacks.5,6

Scheme 1. Succinic
acid synthesis and applications

We developed a
novel one-step catalytic route to produce bio-succinic acid using
biomass-derived tartaric acid (Scheme 1), in high yields. Tartaric acid, which
is naturally produced in grapes, can be recovered from winery waste streams as
a byproduct of wine industry.7 A liquid-phase system under
hydrogen atmosphere comprised of molybdenum oxide catalyst supported on carbon
black (MoOx/BC) is effective in catalyzing C-O bond cleavage of
tartaric acid. The
role of solvent was investigated to gain a better understanding of the reaction
system. The MoOx/BC performance under different pre-reduction
temperatures combined with characterization data such as temperature programmed
reduction (TPR), X-ray powder
diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) reveals that
the high catalyst activity is correlated with the formation of specific Mo
oxidation states. Finally,
studies and structural characterization of the catalyst after reaction indicate
that MoOx/BC remains active upon reuse.


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