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Keywords:

  • aldol reaction;
  • biofuels;
  • butanol;
  • Guerbet reaction;
  • ruthenium
Thumbnail image of graphical abstract

Taming the beast: Unprecedented selectivity of over 94 % at good (20 %+) conversion was observed for the upgrade of ethanol to the advanced biofuel 1-butanol with a ruthenium diphosphine catalyst (see picture; P orange, Ru blue). Preliminary mechanistic studies indicate that control over the notoriously uncontrolled acetaldehyde aldol condensation is critical for the high selectivity, and evidence was found for an on-metal condensation step.