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Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering

Front. Chem. Sci. Eng.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (3) : 531-542
Synthesis of hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural from hardwood and softwood pulp using ferric sulphate as catalyst
Agneev Mukherjee, Guillermo Portillo-Perez, Marie-Josée Dumont()
Bioresource Engineering Department, McGill University, QC H9X 3V9, Canada
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Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and furfural are promising chemicals for the creation of a bio-based economy. The development of an inexpensive catalytic system for converting cellulosic biomass into these chemicals is an important step in this regard. Ferric sulphate is a common, cheap and non-toxic Lewis acid that has been used to catalyse reactions such as wood depolymerisation. In this work, ferric sulphate was used to help the production of HMF and furfural from hardwood and softwood pulps. It was found that for hardwood pulp, the use of ferric sulphate alone gave a maximum HMF yield of 31.6 mol-%. The addition of the ionic liquid [BMIM]Cl or HCl as co-catalysts did not lead to an increase in the yields obtained. A prior decationisation step, however, resulted in HMF yields of 50.4 mol-%. Softwood pulp was harder to depolymerise than hardwood, with a yield of 28.7% obtained using ferric sulphate alone. The maximum HMF yield from softwood, 37.9 mol-%, was obtained using a combination of ferric sulphate and dilute HCl. It was thus concluded that ferric sulphate is a promising catalyst for HMF synthesis from cellulosic biomass.

Keywords 5-hydroxymethylfurfural      hardwood      softwood      ferric sulphate      biorefinery     
Corresponding Authors: Marie-Josée Dumont   
Just Accepted Date: 20 March 2019   Online First Date: 22 April 2019    Issue Date: 22 August 2019
 Cite this article:   
Agneev Mukherjee,Guillermo Portillo-Perez,Marie-Josée Dumont. Synthesis of hydroxymethylfurfural and furfural from hardwood and softwood pulp using ferric sulphate as catalyst[J]. Front. Chem. Sci. Eng., 2019, 13(3): 531-542.
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Agneev Mukherjee
Guillermo Portillo-Perez
Marie-Josée Dumont
Fig.1  Reaction scheme for conversion of cellulose to HMF
Fig.2  TGA of hardwood and softwood pulp
Fig.3  Yields of (a) HMF and (b) furfural from hardwood pulp for different ferric sulphate concentrations obtained at 170oC
Fig.4  Effect of ferric sulphate concentration on (a) HMF and (b) furfural yields from hardwood pulp obtained at 200°C
Fig.5  Effect of ferric sulphate concentration on (a) HMF and (b) furfural yields from hardwood pulp obtained at 200oC using [BMIM]Cl as co-catalyst
Fig.6  Effect of ferric sulphate concentration on (a) HMF and (b) furfural yields from hardwood pulp obtained at 200°C with 0.05 mol/L HCl co-catalyst
Fig.7  Effect of ferric sulphate concentration on (a) HMF and (b) furfural yields from hardwood pulp obtained at 200°C with 0.1 mol/L HCl co-catalyst
Fig.8  (a) HMF and (b) furfural yields obtained from softwood pulp
Fig.9  HPLC curve of HMF fraction obtained after flash chromatography
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