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.
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- lactic acid
- N-heterocyclic carbene iridium complex
- oxidative dehydrogenation