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International Journal of Chemical Engineering
Volume 2018, Article ID 7617685, 18 pages
Review Article

Chemocatalytic Production of Lactates from Biomass-Derived Sugars

1State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Green Pesticide & Agricultural Bioengineering, Key Laboratory of Green Pesticide & Agricultural Bioengineering, Ministry of Education, State-Local Joint Laboratory for Comprehensive Utilization of Biomass, Center for Research & Development of Fine Chemicals, Guizhou University, Guiyang, Guizhou 550025, China
2Institute for Chemicals and Fuels from Alternative Resources (ICFAR), Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5B9

Correspondence should be addressed to Hu Li; nc.ude.uzg@31ilh and Song Yang; moc.liamg@msm.xzhj

Received 31 July 2018; Accepted 22 October 2018; Published 13 November 2018

Academic Editor: Iftekhar A. Karimi

Copyright © 2018 Heng Zhang et al. 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.


In recent decades, a great deal of attention has been paid to the exploration of alternative and sustainable resources to produce biofuels and valuable chemicals, with aims of reducing the reliance on depleting confined fossil resources and alleviating serious economic and environmental issues. In line with this, lignocellulosic biomass-derived lactic acid (LA, 2-hydroxypropanoic acid), to be identified as an important biomass-derived commodity chemical, has found wide applications in food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. In spite of the current fermentation of saccharides to produce lactic acid, sustainability issues such as environmental impact and high cost derived from the relative separation and purification process will be growing with the increasing demands of necessary orders. Alternatively, chemocatalytic approaches to manufacture LA from biomass (i.e., inedible cellulose) have attracted extensive attention, which may give rise to higher productivity and lower costs related to product work-up. This work presents a review of the state-of-the-art for the production of LA using homogeneous, heterogeneous acid, and base catalysts, from sugars and real biomass like rice straw, respectively. Furthermore, the corresponding bio-based esters lactate which could serve as green solvents, produced from biomass with chemocatalysis, is also discussed. Advantages of heterogeneous catalytic reaction systems are emphasized. Guidance is suggested to improve the catalytic performance of heterogeneous catalysts for the production of LA.