Acid-Catalysed Conversion of Carbohydrates into Furan-Type Molecules in Zinc Chloride Hydrate

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Journal Article
ChemPlusChem, 2019, 84 (4), pp. 352 - 357
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© 2019 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Acid-catalysed conversion of biomass, specifically cellulose, holds promise to create value-added, renewable replacements for many petrochemical products. We investigated an unusual acid-catalysed transformation of cellulose and cellobiose in the biphasic solvent system zinc chloride hydrate (ionic liquid)/anisole. Here, furyl hydroxymethyl ketone and furfural are obtained as major products, which are valuable but less commonly formed in high yields in transformations of cellulosic substrates. We explored this chemistry in small-scale model reactions and applied the optimised methods to the conversion of cellulose in bench-scale processes. The optimum reaction system and preferred reaction conditions are defined to select for highly desirable furanoid products in the highest known yields (up to 46 %) directly from cellulose or cellobiose. The method avoids the use of added catalysts: the ionic solvent zinc chloride hydrate possesses the intrinsic acidity required for the hydrolysis and chemical transformation steps. The process involves inexpensive media for the catalytic conversion of cellulose into high-value products under mild processing conditions.
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