Towards furfural from the reaction of cellulosic biomass in zinc chloride hydrate solvents

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Journal Article
Industrial Crops and Products, 2020, 146
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© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Cellulosic biomass is abundant and is readily accessible for the renewable production of industrially useful chemicals. In the present study, we develop a method for the selective synthesis of furfural directly from native lignocellulose and algal biomass employing acidic zinc chloride hydrate solvents. To do this, we first optimise the conversion of xylans (hemicellulose) and separately of cellulose, to find an optimum compromise between the reaction conditions. The acidic inorganic media, along with the solvent-extractant anisole, enable simultaneous transformation of xylans and glucans into significantly value added furfural under mild processing conditions. This unique process affords substantial progress towards the valorisation of native carbohydrates into furfural, compared to existing methods based on the reactions of simple pentoses or pentosans. It enables the direct processing or raw, unrefined bulk biomass.
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