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Science. 2015 Jul 3;349(6243):78-80. doi: 10.1126/science.aaa7169.

GREEN CHEMISTRY. Shape-selective zeolite catalysis for bioplastics production.

Author information

1
Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 23, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium. michiel.dusselier@gmail.com bert.sels@biw.kuleuven.be.
2
Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 23, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium.

Abstract

Biodegradable and renewable polymers, such as polylactic acid, are benign alternatives for petrochemical-based plastics. Current production of polylactic acid via its key building block lactide, the cyclic dimer of lactic acid, is inefficient in terms of energy, time, and feedstock use. We present a direct zeolite-based catalytic process, which converts lactic acid into lactide. The shape-selective properties of zeolites are essential to attain record lactide yields, outperforming those of the current multistep process by avoiding both racemization and side-product formation. The highly productive process is strengthened by facile recovery and practical reactivation of the catalyst, which remains structurally fit during at least six consecutive reactions, and by the ease of solvent and side-product recycling.

PMID:
26138977
DOI:
10.1126/science.aaa7169
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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