Levulinic Acid Production: Comparative Assessment of Al-Rich Ordered Mesoporous Silica and Microporous Zeolite

Somayeh Taghavi, Cristina Pizzolitto, Elena Ghedini, Federica Menegazzo, Giuseppe Cruciani, Markus Peurla, Kari Eränen, Ivo Heinmaa, Atte Aho, Narendra Kumar, Dmitry Yu Murzin, Tapio Salmi, Michela Signoretto*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: In this work, the formation of levulinic acid (LA) as one of the top-twelve chemical building blocks from glucose was studied. In particular, the formulations of heterogeneous acid catalysts based on SBA-15, MCM-41 mesoporous silica was carried out and their performance in catalytic conversion of glucose to LA were assessed and compared with commercial H-Beta-25 (SiO2/Al2O3 = 25) microporous zeolite. The high surface area, suitable porosity, balanced acid sites were considered as the main factors of a proper catalytic performance. Thus, essential modification of mesoporous SBA-15 and MCM-41 materials was carried out by introducing Al in their structures for Lewis acid sites improvement. Alumina was introduced to SBA-15 by post synthesis evaporation impregnation method while it was embedded inside the MCM-41 mesoporous material during the synthesis. In addition, Brønsted acidity was introduced via post-synthesis grafting of sulfonic acid groups. The textural and morphological features and acidity of the materials were investigated using N2 physisorption, SEM, EDX, TEM, XRD and pyridine-FTIR. All catalysts were tested for aqueous glucose conversion in an autoclave at 180 °C. Al-MCM-SO3H has shown the best performance with 54% of LA yield after 4 h reaction. According to Py-FTIR introduction of alumina and sulfonic acid groups improved weak and medium Lewis and Brønsted acid sites. However, the Brønsted to Lewis acid site ratio (B/L) was higher for Al-MCM-SO3H compared to SBA-Al-SO3H leading the reaction pathway to LA. H-Beta-25 zeolite displayed a poor performance because of harsh medium and strong acid sites catalyzing humins formation. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
JournalCatalysis Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Acid modification
  • Glucose
  • H-beta zeolite
  • Levulinic acid
  • MCM-41
  • SBA-15


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