Levulinic acid

Levulinic acid, or 4-oxopentanoic acid, is an organic compound with the formula CH3C(O)CH2CH2CO2H. It is classified as a keto acid. This white crystalline solid is soluble in water and polar organic solvents. It is derived from degradation of cellulose and is a potential precursor to biofuels, such as ethyl levulinate.

The original synthesis of levulinic acid is done by heating hexoses (glucose, fructose) or starch in dilute hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. The yield depends on the nature of the acid, acid concentration, temperature and pressure. In addition to formic acid further, partly insoluble, by-products are produced. These are deeply colored and their complete removal is a challenge for most technologies.

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