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Molecules 2016, 21(5), 657;

Towards a Rational Design of a Continuous-Flow Method for the Acetalization of Crude Glycerol: Scope and Limitations of Commercial Amberlyst 36 and AlF3·3H2O as Model Catalysts

Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Via Torino 155, 30175 Venezia Mestre, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Kerry Gilmore
Received: 15 April 2016 / Revised: 3 May 2016 / Accepted: 12 May 2016 / Published: 18 May 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Flow Chemistry)
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The acetalization of six different types of glycerol including pure, wet, and crude-like grade compounds of compositions simulating those of crude glycerols produced by the biodiesel manufacture, was carried out with two model ketones such as acetone and 2-butanone. The reaction was investigated under continuous-flow (CF) conditions through a comparative analysis of an already known acetalization catalyst such as Amberlyst 36 (A36), and aluminum fluoride three hydrate (AlF3·3H2O, AF) whose use was never previously reported for the synthesis of acetals. At 10 bar and 25 °C, A36 was a highly active catalyst allowing good-to-excellent conversion (85%–97%) and selectivity (99%) when either pure or wet glycerol was used as a reagent. This catalyst however, proved unsuitable for the CF acetalization of crude-like glycerol (CG) since it severely and irreversibly deactivated in a few hours by the presence of low amounts of NaCl (2.5 wt %) which is a typical inorganic impurity of raw glycerol from the biorefinery. Higher temperature and pressure (up to 100 °C and 30 bar) were not successful to improve the outcome. By contrast, at 10 bar and 100 °C, AF catalyzed the acetalization of CG with both acetone and 2-butanone, yielding stable conversion and productivity up to 78% and 5.6 h−1, respectively. A XRD analysis of fresh and used catalysts proved that the active phase was a solid solution (SS) of formula Al2[F1-x(OH)x]6(H2O)y present as a component of the investigated commercial AF sample. A hypothesis to explain the role of such SS phase was then formulated based on the Brønsted acidity of OH groups of the solid framework. Overall, the AF catalyst allowed not only a straightforward upgrading of CG to acetals, but also a more cost-efficient protocol avoiding the expensive refining of raw glycerol itself. View Full-Text
Keywords: acetalization; glycerol; solketal; catalysis; continuous-flow acetalization; glycerol; solketal; catalysis; continuous-flow

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Guidi, S.; Noè, M.; Riello, P.; Perosa, A.; Selva, M. Towards a Rational Design of a Continuous-Flow Method for the Acetalization of Crude Glycerol: Scope and Limitations of Commercial Amberlyst 36 and AlF3·3H2O as Model Catalysts. Molecules 2016, 21, 657.

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