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Challenges in Catalytic Manufacture of Renewable Pyrrolidinones from Fermentation Derived Succinate


Fermentation derived succinic acid ammonium salt is an ideal precursor for manufacture of renewable N-methyl pyrrolidinone (NMP) or 2-pyrrolidinone (2P) via heterogeneous catalysis. However, there are many challenges to making this a practical reality. Chief among the challenges is avoiding catalyst poisoning by fermentation by- and co-products. Battelle/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed an effective technology strategy for this purpose. The technology is a combination of purely thermal processing, followed by simple catalytic hydrogenation that together avoids catalyst poisoning from fermentation impurities and provides high selectivity and yields of NMP or 2P.

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We would like to thank the US Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Battelle Memorial Institute and Archer-Daniels-Midland for financial support. In addition, we acknowledge the technical efforts and activities of E. V. Alderson, M. Butcher, T. Hart, D. S. Muzatko, D. L. Stiles, C. F. Wend and Dr. Y. Wang during various portions of this project. We also thank Battelle Memorial Institute for permission to publish.

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Correspondence to James F. White.

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White, J.F., Holladay, J.E., Zacher, A.A. et al. Challenges in Catalytic Manufacture of Renewable Pyrrolidinones from Fermentation Derived Succinate. Top Catal 57, 1325–1334 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11244-014-0299-z

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  • Succinic acid
  • Hydrogenation
  • N-Methyl succimide
  • N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidinone
  • 2-pyrrolidinone
  • Renewable resources