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What is Levulinic Acid?

Published Date : June 14, 2018

Preamble:

4-oxopentanoic acid is procured from the disintegration of cellulose and has been employed as a very popular precursor for various bio fuels. These compounds are white in color and are easily soluble in polar organic solvents and water. Levulinic acids are organic compounds that would essentially fall under the category of keto acids. 

Terminology and production methodologies:

The terminology for levulinic acid was obtained from the term “levulose” used for fructose. Batch wise processes were initially carried out for the commercial production of levulinic acid. However later on, continuous processing methodologies were developed later for effective increase in production efficiency rate.

Significance of levulinic acid in the contemporary world:

 Levulinic acid has been pondered a chemical of relative significance for over a long period of time and has been marked as a chemical with high potential. In 2004, levulinic acid was remarked as one of the 12 potential platform chemicals to possess prominence in biorefinery concepts, by the US Department of Energy (U.S. DoE).

Original synthesis methodology:

The synthesis process of levulinic acid implicates the heating procedure of glucose and fructose compounds in acids like sulfuric acid and hydro chloric acid.  There are various factors pertaining to chemicals’ properties that determine the rate of synthesis. This essentially encompasses pressure, nature of the acid, temperature and acid concentration. After this, there are by-products produced. These by-products are insoluble and deep colored. Hence, the wholesome elimination of these compounds is quite demanding for any technology.

Growth in the commercial production of levulinic acid:

Sturdiness of the acid technology patronizes the significant increase in the commercial production rate of levulinic acid. Pure levulinic acid compounds are obtained through the solvent extraction procedure and distillation of the formerly produced levulinic compounds.  GFBiochemicals had recently initiated the commercial production of levulinic acid compounds. However, 2Caserta still remain with the largest operational plant for the commercial production of levulinic acid.

Applications:

There are various categories of additives manufactured using levulinic acid. They are also employed as the pivotal precursors for the production of various pharmaceutical products and plasticizers. They are potentially known for their astounding capability of being able to support the production of various compounds. Hence, they form the building blocks or the starting materials of a wide range of compounds. They are also employed to enhance the nicotine delivery in smoke released from cigarettes and also to bind the nicotine with neural receptors. They are known for their addressing of a number of high volume chemical markets. This entails the production of significant bio fuels like ethyl levulinate and 2-Methyl-THF.