Biomimetic catalysts: Maximizing yields of hydroxymethylfurfural from whole lignocellulosic biomass

Barron B Hewetson, Purdue University


Achieving high yields of HMF requires effective hydrolysis, isomerization, and dehydration of glucose from cellulose. We report the use of a cellulose solvent [85% w/w phosphoric acid] to dissolve and then recover cellulose from several plant biomasses (corn stover, switchgrass, and poplar) and crystalline cellulose (Avicel). The resultant amorphous cellulose reprecipitated from solution was subjected to a conversion process where maleic acid hydrolyzes the cellulose to glucose, AlCl3 isomerizes the resultant glucose to fructose, and both acid catalysts dehydrate the fructose to HMF in a single bi-phasic reactor where HMF is continuously extracted into MTHF. The results confirm yields of HMF (38 to 68%) can be increased by cellulose dissolution in concentrated phosphoric acid followed by hydrolysis of the re-precipitated amorphous cellulose. The increase in HMF yields is dependent upon the type of biomass. Lastly, delignified biomass produced from a deoxygenation was subjected to the same processing methods. The total sugar conversion from the delignified residue reaches greater than 90%.




Mosier, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Agricultural engineering|Chemical engineering

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