Branched Diol Monomers from the Sequential Hydrogenation of Renewable Carboxylic Acids

Charles S. Spanjers, Deborah K. Schneiderman, Jay Z. Wang, Jingyu Wang, Marc A. Hillmyer, Kechun Zhang, Paul J. Dauenhauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A prominent challenge in replacing petrochemical polymers with bioderived alternatives is the efficient transformation of biomass into useful monomers. In this work, we demonstrate a practical process for the synthesis of multifunctional alcohols from five- and six-carbon acids using heterogeneous catalysts in aqueous media. Design of this process was guided by thermodynamic calculations, which indicate the need for two sequential high-pressure hydrogenations: one, reduction of the acid to a lactone at high temperature; two, further reduction of the lactone to the corresponding diol or triol at low temperature. For example, the conversion of mesaconic acid into (α or β)-methyl-γ-butyrolactone was achieved with 95 % selectivity at a turnover frequency of 1.2 min−1 over Pd/C at 240 °C. Subsequent conversion of (α or β)-methyl-γ-butyrolactone into 2-methyl-1,4-butanediol was achieved with a yield of 80 % with Ru/C at 100 °C. This process is an efficient method for the production of lactones, diols, and triols, all valuable monomers for the synthesis of bioderived branched polyesters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3031-3035
Number of pages5
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 6 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • biomass
  • diols
  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • polymers
  • sustainable chemistry


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