The catalytic conversion of (bio)ethanol into butanol is an attractive route to upgrade the modest fuel characteristics of this widely available bioderived substrate into a molecule that has properties much closer to conventional gasoline. The Guerbet reaction, known for more than 100 years, provides an ideal mechanism for this transformation. However, despite the apparently simple nature of this reaction for ethanol, it provides formidable challenges, especially in terms of achieving high selectivity. There have been advances in both heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysis in this regard, and this Perspective focuses on the very recent reports of homogeneous catalysts that describe encouraging results in terms of achieving high selectivity, mechanistic understanding, and widening scope.
- ethanol upgrading
- Guerbet catalysis