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Pure Appl. Chem., 2012, Vol. 84, No. 3, pp. 779-788

Published online 2011-11-05

Hydrogenation of methyl laurate to produce lauryl alcohol over Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 with methanol as the solvent and hydrogen source*

Shuguang Liang, Huizhen Liu, Jinli Liu, Weitao Wang, Tao Jiang*, Zhaofu Zhang and Buxing Han*

Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China

Abstract: Hydrogenation of methyl laurate was conducted over a Cu/ZnO/Al2O3 catalyst, using methanol as the solvent and hydrogen source, to give lauryl alcohol. In this process, the solvent underwent partial decomposition in contact with the catalyst to generate hydrogen, which served as the hydrogenation agent. The effect of different factors on the reaction was examined, to optimize production of lauryl alcohol with high conversion efficiency and selectivity. Use of methanol as the solvent not only favored the reaction, but also suppressed a side reaction involving transesterification between methyl laurate and lauryl alcohol. Under optimal reaction conditions, 91.8 % conversion of methyl laurate and 88.8 % yield of lauryl alcohol could be achieved.
*Pure Appl. Chem. 84, 411–860 (2012). A collection of invited papers for the IUPAC project 2008-016-1-300 “Chlorine-free Synthesis for Green Chemistry”.