Sugar Tech

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 182–193 | Cite as

Maintenance of a Highly Active Solid Acid Catalyst in Sugar Beet Molasses for Levulinic Acid Production

  • Shimin Kang
  • Jian YuEmail author
Research Article


A strongly acidic cation exchange resin (Amberlyst-36™) was used as a heterogeneous acid catalyst in a sugar beet molasses solution for levulinic acid production. The solid acid catalyst was quickly deactivated during the reaction, in a large portion due to the non-sugar components (cations, proteins and alkaline compounds) in sugar beet molasses. In order to keep the catalyst active for reuse, the sugar beet molasses solution was pretreated in a column packed with the resin pellets for selective removal of the impurities that might cause the deactivation. The ion-exchange solution not only gave a high levulinic acid yield, but also maintained the heterogeneous catalyst active for repeated reuse under the reaction conditions. The saturated resin pellets discharged from the ion-exchange pretreatment could be conveniently regenerated under ambient conditions. In contrast, the catalyst deactivated in the reaction had to be regenerated in harsh conditions involving re-sulfonation, in which the catalyst had a gradual permanent activity loss in repeated regenerations. The ion-exchange pretreatment of sugar beet molasses solution can therefore maintain a high catalytic activity of Amberlyst-36™ and reduce the cost of the solid catalyst in levulinic acid production.


Sugar molasses Levulinic acid Solid acid catalyst Activity regeneration Amberlyst-36™ 



The work was supported by Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at UHM, USA. Part of the work of Shimin Kang was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21606045).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society for Sugar Research & Promotion 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hawaii Natural Energy InstituteUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Distributed Energy SystemsDongguan University of TechnologyDongguanChina

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