- Titania-catalysed oxidative dehydrogenation of ethyl lactate: effective yet selective free-radical oxidation
- Green Chemistry
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We research here the catalytic oxidative dehydrogenation of ethyl lactate, as an alternative route to ethyl pyruvate. Testing various solid catalysts (Fe2O3, TiO2, V2O5/MgO-Al2O3, ZrO2, CeO2 and ZnO), we find that simple and inexpensive TiO2 efficiently catalyses this reaction under mild conditions. Furthermore, molecular oxygen was used as the terminal oxidant. Importantly, this reaction runs well also using inexpensive commercial solvent mixtures. Both the desired reaction and the by-products formation follow a free-radical mechanism. Remarkably, adding activated carbon, a solid radical scavenger, hardly affects the catalytic activity, but enhances the product selectivity. This is because this solid radical scavenger hampers the formation of undesired products in solution, without suppressing the oxidation at the catalyst surface.
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