Terpenes

Terpenes are very cheap precursors to fragrances, flavours, drugs and agrochemicals but their high reactivity often makes it difficult to achieve a selective transformation. However, the target is worth pursuing as almost all their derivatives can be useful. Terpenes mixtures naturally occur in essential oils, but significant amounts of them are also present in industrial wastes and by-products, as in the case of turpentines (derived from pulp & paper industry) or orange peel residues (derived from citrus fruit processing).

Research studies at ISTM are devoted since many years to the selective transformation of terpenes into valuable products by means of heterogeneous catalysts. Starting materials used range from essential oils (citronella, palmarosa or  penniroyal oil) to secondary-raw materials (dementholised mint oil).

References:
[1] N. Ravasio, N. Poli, R. Psaro, M. Saba, F. Zaccheria, “Bifunctional Copper Catalysts. Part II. Stereoselective Synthesis of (-)-menthol starting from (+)-citronellal”, Topics in Catalysis, 2000, 13, 195-199.
[2] N. Ravasio, F. Zaccheria, M. Guidotti, R. Psaro, “Mono- and bi-functional heterogeneous catalytic transformation of terpenes and terpenoids”, Topics in Catal., 2004, 27,157-168.
[3] F. Zaccheria, N. Ravasio, A. Fusi, M. Rodondi, R. Psaro, “Tuning selectivity in Terpene Chemistry: Selective Hydrogenation versus Cascade Reactions over Copper Catalysts” Advanced Synth. Catal., 2005, 347,1267-1272.
[4] N. Ravasio, F. Zaccheria, A. Fusi, R. Psaro, “One pot selective hydrogenation and dynamic kinetic resolution over Cu/Al2O3: a way to (-)-menthol starting from low value mint oils”, App. Catal. A: General, 2006, 315,14-19.

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