Towards electrochemical process design for the production of valeric acid

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


In order to achieve considerable CO2 reductions there is an urgent need to develop alternative sustainable processes based on bio-based feedstock and renewable energy. The energy sector is currently in a transition towards cost competitive energy generation from renewable sources. Where the availability of cheap electricity presents an opportunity to electrify the chemical industry, as it can benefit from the progressive decarbonisation of the energy sector. Furthermore, the shift towards bio-based feedstock represents the largest abatement potential for CO2 emissions.
Valeric acid (pentanoic acid) is currently produced via hydroformylation (oxo-process) of 1-butene followed by oxidation of valeraldehyde to the valeric acid. Levulinic acid, or 4-oxopentanoic acid, is one of the renewable platform chemicals and can be derived from lignocellulosic biomass via acid catalysed hydrolysis. Typically, levulinic acid is reduced in one step to valeric acid utilizing lead electrodes, with γ-valerolactone being a minor by-product.

Recently, we have demonstrated the viability of other cathode materials (indium, cadmium and zinc). Where indium exhibited superior selectivity, as no formation of the side product gVL has been detected.4 Although the electrochemical ketone reduction to the methylene functionality of levulinic acid and similar compounds is known for more than 100 years, no study on the influence of reaction conditions is reported to the best of our knowledge. However, to come towards an optimal integration into an electrochemical process, it is vital to understand the influence of reaction parameters to enable an efficient electrochemical process design. We therefore focused in our study on the influence of reaction conditions next to the applicability of other cathode materials. The influence of acidity and temperature on conversion and selectivity was studied together with the influence of anode material on the design of the electrochemical reactor. The obtained results enables a design strategy of an electrochemical reactor and subsequent integration into a process design.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event72nd Annual ISE Meeting - Online, Jeju Island, South Korea
Duration: 29 Aug 20213 Sept 2021


Conference72nd Annual ISE Meeting
Country/TerritorySouth Korea
CityJeju Island


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards electrochemical process design for the production of valeric acid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this