This review deals with homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic processes for the Guerbet condensation, as well as discusses biomass sources, thermodynamics and technological considerations.
The Guerbet condensation reaction is an alcohol coupling reaction that has been known for more than a century. Because of the increasing availability of bio-based alcohol feedstock, this reaction is of growing importance and interest in terms of value chains of renewable chemical and biofuel production. Due to the specific branching pattern of the alcohol products, the Guerbet reaction has many interesting applications. In comparison to their linear isomers, branched-chain Guerbet alcohols have extremely low melting points and excellent fluidity. This review provides thermodynamic insights and unravels the various mechanistic steps involved. A comprehensive overview of the homogeneous, heterogeneous and combined homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic systems described in published reports and patents is also given. Technological considerations, challenges and perspectives for the Guerbet chemistry are discussed.