N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP) is an industrial solvent that is currently based on fossil resources. In order to prepare it in a biobased way, the possibility to synthesize NMP from -aminobutyric acid (GABA) was investigated, since GABA can be obtained from glutamic acid, an amino acid that is present in many plant proteins. Cyclization of GABA to 2-pyrrolidone and subsequent methylation of 2-pyrrolidone to NMP was achieved in a one-pot procedure, using methanol as the methylating agent and a halogen salt (i.e. ammonium bromide) as a catalyst. A selectivity above 90% was achieved, as well as a high conversion. Methylation of 2-pyrrolidone could also be done with dimethyl carbonate, but then the selectivity for NMP was less (67%).
- dimethyl carbonate