Selective Catalytic Dehydrogenative Oxidation of Bio-Polyols to Lactic Acid

Jiajie Wu, Lingyun Shen, Sai Duan, Zhe Ning Chen, Qingshu Zheng, Yaoqi Liu, Zheming Sun, James H. Clark, Xin Xu*, Tao Tu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The global demand for lactic acid (LA) is increasing due to its successful application as monomer for the manufacture of bioplastics. Although N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) iridium complexes are promising molecular catalysts for LA synthesis, their instabilities have hindered their utilization especially in commercial applications. Here, we report that a porous self-supported NHC-iridium coordination polymer can efficiently prevent the clusterization of corresponding NHC-Ir molecules and can function as a solid molecular recyclable catalyst for dehydrogenation of bio-polyols to form LA with excellent activity (97 %) and selectivity (>99 %). A turnover number of up to 5700 could be achieved in a single batch, due to the synergistic participation of the Ba2+ and hydroxide ions, as well as the blockage of unwanted pathways by adding methanol. Our findings demonstrate a potential route for the industrial production of LA from cheap and abundant bio-polyols, including sorbitol.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Early online date4 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

2020 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • bio-polyols
  • lactic acid
  • N-heterocyclic carbene iridium complex
  • oxidative dehydrogenation
  • self-supporting

Cite this