An Overview Several Possible Green Routes to AA Some Sustainable Others

Scheme 7.17 summarizes the possible routes for the synthesis of AA. Some of them are "green" but only a few of them can be considered truly sustainable, from

Scheme 7.17 Summary of the various alternative pathways for AA synthesis.

both an environmental and economic point of view, if the cost of reactants and the complexity of the operation are taken into consideration. For instance, the direct oxidative cleavage of cyclohexene into AA with HP is a type of synthesis that abides by the rules of green chemistry, but it is a prohibitive route because of the cost of HP (stoichiometry 4 mole per mole of cyclohexene). The same is true for the combined biocatalytic-catalytic synthesis starting from d-glucose with the intermediate formation of muconic acid.

To date, it seems that the most sustainable approach is the one that combines the use of cheap raw materials, for example, cyclohexane, benzene or phenol, with oxygen as the terminal oxidant. Within this context, a process that does not use acetic acid in the aerial oxidation of the KA Oil into AA or, even better, in the direct oxidation of cyclohexane to AA would represent a significant step forward towards a new and sustainable synthesis. On the other hand, recent examples demonstrate that even the traditional process making use of nitric acid for the oxidation of KA Oil may be turned into an intrinsically green one that is economically sustainable due to the use of the co-produced N2O in down-stream applications.

Research in this field is still very active, and the various alternative options and strategies currently under investigation increase the likelihood that in the near future a new and sustainable synthetic route will finally be implemented at the commercial level.

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