Catalytic Transfer Hydrogenation of CO2 to Potassium Formate using Glycerol as a Hydrogen Source

Case ID: 017-053-Voutchkova

To simultaneously transform COand glycerol, two low-value by-products, into formate and lactate can be highly economically attractive. Presently, however, it is challenging to achieve the reaction on an industrial scale.

GW researchers developed novel single-site supported heterogeneous catalysts that can simultaneously convert COand glycerol into formate and lactate under batch or continuous flow conditions. The novel single-site supported heterogeneous catalysts consist of Ir or Ru N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) that are functionalized with sulfonates. In addition, synthetic hydrotalcite can be used as a non-inert supporting structure to these Ir or Ru based catalysts.  

To date, GW researchers are the first to convert COinto formate under a CO2–glycerol continuously flow system. Compared with previous processes, this new discovery generates less low-value by-products and has a higher activity. Initial research results are promising for scale-up synthesis competitive with existing industrial productions of formate and lactate.


Simultaneously covert COand glycerol into high value formate and lactate


1. Simultaneously conversion

2. First to achieve COtransfer hydrogenation in a gas-liquid flow system

3. High potential for industrial-scale continuous process

4. Occurs at a lower temperature and pressure than previous processes, thus safer and more economical  

5. Reduce greenhouse emissions

Patent Information:

Title App Type Country Patent No. File Date Issued Date Patent Status
Glycerol to Fomic Acid and Lactic Acid Nationalized PCT United States   11/18/2019   Published

For Information, Contact:

Michael Harpen
Licensing Manager
George Washington University


Adelina Voutchkova-Kostal
Matthew Finn
Jacob Heltzel