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Keywords:

  • gold;
  • homogeneous catalysis;
  • nanoparticles;
  • oxidation;
  • renewable resources

Abstract

Glycolic acid is an important chemical that has uses as a cleaning agent as well as a chemical intermediate. At present glycolic acid is manufactured from either chloroacetic acid or from formaldehyde hydrocyanation, both routes being nongreen and using nonsustainable resources. We investigate the possibility of producing glycolate from the oxidation of glycerol, a sustainable raw material. We show that by using 1 % wt Au/carbon catalysts prepared using a sol-immobilization method glycolate yields of ca. 60 % can be achieved, using hydrogen peroxide as oxidant in an autoclave reactor. We describe and discuss the reaction mechanism and consider the reaction conditions that maximize the formation of glycolate.