Acid-catalyzed conversion of mono- and poly-sugars into platform chemicals: Effects of molecular structure of sugar substrate
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Hydrolysis/pyrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass always produces a mixture of sugars with distinct structures as intermediates or products. This study tried to elucidate the effects of molecular structure of sugars on their acid-catalyzed conversions in ethanol/water. Location of carbonyl group in sugars (fructose versus glucose) and steric configuration of hydroxyl groups (glucose versus galactose) significantly affected yields of levulinic acid/ester (fructose > glucose > galactose). The dehydration of fructose to 5-(hydroxymethyl) furfural produces much less soluble polymer than that from glucose and galactose, which results in high yields of levulinic acid/ester from fructose. Anhydrate sugar such as levoglucosan tends to undergo the undesirable decomposition to form less levulinic acid/ester. Catalytic behaviors of the poly-sugars (sucrose, maltose, raffinose, β-cyclodextrins) were determined much by their basic units. However, their big molecular sizes create the steric hindrance that significantly affects their followed conversion over solid acid catalyst.
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