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Effect and Mechanism of Aluminum(III) for Guaiacol–Glyoxylic Acid Condensation Reaction in Vanillin Production

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journal contribution
posted on 17.09.2020, 22:43 authored by Haifang Mao, Chiyuan Zhang, Tao Meng, Hongzhao Wang, Xiaojun Hu, Zuobing Xiao, Chaoyang Wang, Jibo Liu
3-methoxy-4-hydroxymandelic acid (VMA) was the critical intermediate for the synthesis of vanillin by the glyoxylic acid method. Meanwhile, a valuable byproduct (2-hydroxy-3-methoxy-mandelic acid, o-VMA) was obtained during the reaction. Al3+ was found to be a helpful catalyst in increasing the selectivity for VMA and o-VMA. In the presence of Al3+, the selectivity for VMA and o-VMA increased from 83 to 88% and from 3 to 8%, respectively, while that of the helpless byproduct 2-hydroxy-3-methoxy-1,5-mandelic acid (di-VMA) decreased from 14% to less than 4%. The kinetics based on the kinetic equation of the condensation reaction was studied by the initial concentration method. The results indicated that the involvement of Al3+ could reduce the activation energy of the reaction on the basis of the Arrhenius equation. Combined with thermogravimetric analysis, in situ Fourier transform-infrared spectroscopy, and 1H NMR research, Al3+ was found to interact with guaiacol through Al–O and Al···H, which further improved the selectivity of the VMA and o-VMA and reduced the selectivity of di-VMA by adding the electronegativity of the ortho- and para-positions of hydroxyl groups of guaiacol.