Progress in Biofuel Production: Mn-catalyzed Upgrading of EtOH to 1-BuOH

    Biomass-derived ethanol is an important renewable feedstock. Its conversion into high-quality biofuels is a promising route to replace fossil resources. Very recently, Qiang Liu’s group from our department developed an efficient manganese-catalyzed Guerbet-type condensation reaction of ethanol to form 1-butanol in high selectivity. This is the first example of upgrading ethanol into higher alcohols using a homogenous non-noble metal catalyst. This process proceeded selectively in the presence of a well-defined manganese pincer complex at parts per million (ppm) level. The developed reaction represents a sustainable synthesis of 1-butanol with excellent TON (>110 000) and TOF (>3 000 h-1). Moreover, mechanistic studies including control experiments, NMR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography identified the essential role of “N-H moiety” of the manganese catalysts and the major reaction intermediates related to the catalytic cycle. The observed remarkable catalyst performance represents a considerable step toward a sustainable and e?cient synthesis of biofuels with high energy density from bio-derived feedstock.  This work was supported by National Program for Thousand Young Talents of China and 111 project.


Article LinkJ. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 13941-13948.