indepth investigations biofuelCongratulations to our PhD student Lorenzo Bonaldi for his scientific publication entitled “In-depth Investigation of the Reaction Parameters Tuning the Ethyl Levulinate Synthesis from Fructose and Inulin”. Alkyl levulinates (ALs) are strategic compounds for the development of sustainable energy transition. In this work, the direct alcoholysis of two model substrates (fructose and inulin) was investigated using a One-Factor-At-a-Time (OFAT) approach for the selective production of ethyl levulinate (EL), with diluted H₂SO₄ as the catalyst.

This study clarified the role of the main reaction parameters (substrate and acid loadings, temperature, reaction time), achieving high yields for the ethanolysis of fructose (91.5 mol%). The ethanolysis of inulin was then optimized using a multivariate approach based on Response Surface Methodology (RSM), which highlighted the interplay of the reaction parameters on selective EL production. This approach identified the optimal conditions to achieve the highest EL yield (up to 89.3 mol%) and those ensuring the highest EL concentration (using a substrate loading of 14 wt%). Additionally, the formation of diethyl ether (DEE), which is scarcely investigated in the literature and can negatively influence the alcoholysis process, was examined. RSM also identified the reaction conditions necessary to achieve the lowest DEE by-product yield. Finally, the humin solid residue was deeply characterized to envisage its possible applications, under a circular economy perspective.

Lorenzo’s work is available at the following link:

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Dipartimento di Chimica e Chimica Industriale
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry
Via G. Moruzzi, 13 - Pisa, Italy
Corso di Dottorato in Scienze Chimiche e dei Materiali
Doctoral School in Chemistry and Material Science
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