Heterogeneous catalytic synthesis of methyl lactate and lactic acid from sugars and their derivatives

Päivi Mäki-Arvela, Atte Aho, Dmitry Yu Murzin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Article or Literature Reviewpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Recent developments in sugar transformations to methyl lactate and lactic acid are critically summarized. The highest yield of methyl lactate from glucose obtained over Sn(salen)/octylmethyl imidazolium bromide catalyst was 68 % at 160 °C whereas the highest yield of lactic acid of 58 % was achieved over hierarchical Lewis acidic Sn-Beta catalysts at 200 °C under inert atmosphere. In addition to the desired products also humins are formed in water whereas in methanol alkyl glucosides- and -fructosides as well as acetals were generated, especially in the presence of Brønsted-acidic sites. The main challenges limiting the industrial feasibility of these reactions are incomplete liquid phase mass balance closure, complicated product analysis and a lack of kinetic data. In addition to reporting optimized reaction conditions and catalyst properties also catalyst reuse and regeneration as well as kinetic modelling and continuous operation are summarized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4833-4855
Number of pages23
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2020
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • lactic acid
  • Lewis acids
  • methyl lactate
  • sugars


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