Mixed-Ligand Ni(II), Co(II) and Fe(II) Complexes as Catalysts for Esterification of Biomass-Derived Levulinic Acid with Polyol and in Situ Reduction via Hydrogenation with NaBH4

  • Hwei Voon Lee University of Malaya
  • Md. Anwar Hossain PhD Student, University of Malaya
Keywords: Biomass, esterification-hydrogenation, mixed-ligand complex, NaBH4, reduction.


Synthesizing polyol-based ester from biomass feedstocks for the preparation of biolubricant overcomes the dependence on petroleum oil usage. Albeit biomass-derived bio-oil is an alternative for the production of polyol ester, upgrading is essential prior to use as biolubricant. Levulinic acid (LA), obtained from bio-oil was applied for the catalytic esterification with two polyols, e.g., trimethylolpropane (TMP) and pentaerythritol (PE), in the presence of mixed-ligand Ni(II), Co(II), and Fe(II) complexes as catalyst. New mixed-ligand coordination complexes with empirical formula; [Ni(Phe)(Bpy)Cl].H2O, [Co(Phe)(Bpy)Cl].H2O, and [Fe(Phe)(Tyr)Cl].H2O were synthesized by the reaction of ligands [L-phenylalanine (Phe), 4,4'-bipyridine (Bpy), and L-tyrosine (Tyr)] with metal chloride salts and characterized by elemental analysis, magnetic susceptibility, FTIR, TGA/DTA, powder-XRD, and SEM techniques. This study aims to investigate the catalytic activities of the complexes via esterification reaction of levulinic acid with trimethylolpropane and pentaerythritol. In addition, these catalysts were further employed for the in situ hydrogenation of levulinate esters via NaBH4 at room temperature upon refluxing. Indeed, the iron(II) complex was more potential, exhibiting its efficiency as a homogeneous catalyst for esterification-hydrogenation reaction for synthesizing ester-based oils.