Levulinic acid is a platform chemical with significant potential to substitute petroleum-based products in the chemical and fuel sectors.
Agricultural waste, cow dung, was used as feedstock for the production of a high value–added chemical levulinic acid (LA) in dilute acid aqueous solutions.
A high LA yield of 338.9 g/kg was obtained from the pretreated cow dung, which was much higher than that obtained from the crude cow dung (135 g/kg), mainly attributed to the breakage of the lignin fraction in the lignocellulose structure of the cow dung by potassium hydroxide (KOH) pretreatment, and thus enhanced the accessibility of cow dung to the acid sites in the catalytic reaction.
Meanwhile, another value-added chemical formic acid could be obtained with a yield of ca. 160 g/kg in the process, implying a total production of ca. 500 g/kg yield for LA and formic acid from the pretreated cow dung with the proposed process. The developed process was shown to be tolerant to high initial substrate loading with a satisfied LA yield. This work provides a promising strategy for the value-increment utilization of lignocellulosic agricultural residues.