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The conversion of lignocellulosics to levulinic acid

Authors

  • Darryn W Rackemann,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 4001, Australia
    • Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George Street, Brisbane 4001, Australia.
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  • William OS Doherty

    1. Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane 4001, Australia
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Abstract

Biomass represents an abundant and relatively low cost carbon resource that can be utilized to produce platform chemicals such as levulinic acid. Current processing technology limits the cost-effective production of levulinic acid in commercial quantities from biomass. The key to improving the yield and efficiency of levulinic acid production from biomass lies in the ability to optimize and isolate the intermediate products at each step of the reaction pathway and reduce re-polymerization and side reactions. New technologies (including the use of microwave irradiation and ionic liquids) and the development of highly selective catalysts would provide the necessary step change for the optimization of key reactions. A processing environment that allows the use of biphasic systems and/or continuous extraction of products would increase reaction rates, yields and product quality. This review outlines the chemistry of levulinic acid synthesis and discusses current and potential technologies for producing levulinic acid from lignocellulosics. © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

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