Kinetic modeling of levulinic acid hydrogenation to gamma-valerolactone in water using a carbon supported Ru catalyst

A. S. Piskun, H. H. van de Bovenkamp, C. B. Rasrendra, J. G. M. Winkelman, H. J. Heeres*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


gamma-Valerolactone (GVL) is considered a very interesting green, bio-based platform chemical with high application potential for the production of both biofuels and biobased chemicals. In this contribution, we report a kinetic study on the hydrogenation of levulinic acid (LA) to 4-hydroxypentanoic acid (4-HPA) and the subsequent intramolecular esterification to GVL in water using Ru/C (3 wt.% Ru) as the catalyst in a batch set-up. A large number of experiments was performed in a temperature range of 343-403 K, a hydrogen pressure range from 30 to 60 bar and initial LA concentrations between 300 and 2500 mol m(-3). Experimental data, supported by calculation, indicate that intra-particle diffusion of LA and hydrogen affect the overall reaction rate and as such a heterogeneous model with both reaction and diffusion was used to model the data. The hydrogenation reaction of LA to 4-HPA was modelled using a Langmuir-Hinshelwood type expression whereas the reaction of 4-HPA to GVL was modelled as an equilibrium reaction occurring in the bulk of the liquid, catalyzed by a Bronsted acid, in this case LA and 4-HPA. A good fit between experiments and model was observed. The results were compared to a kinetic model without considering mass transfer and diffusion limitations. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-167
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Catalysis A-General
Publication statusPublished - 5-Sept-2016


  • Levulinic acid
  • Hydrogenation
  • Ruthenium catalyst
  • Kinetic modelling
  • Batch set up

Cite this