Carà, Piera Demma, Pagliaro, Mario, Elmekawy, Ahmed, Brown, David R., Verschuren, Peter, Shiju, N. Raveendran and Rothenberg, Gadi (2013) Hemicellulose hydrolysis catalysed by solid acids. Catalysis Science & Technology, 3 (8). pp. 2057-2061. ISSN 2044-4753

Depolymerising hemicellulose into platform sugar molecules is a key step in developing the concept of an integrated biorefinery. This reaction is traditionally catalysed by either enzymes or homogeneous mineral acids. We compared various solid catalysts for hemicellulose hydrolysis, running reactions in water, under neutral pH and relatively mild temperature and pressure (120 °C and 10 bar) conditions. Sulphonated resins are highly active, but they leach out sulphonic groups. Sulphonated silicas are less active, but more stable. They have weakly and strongly bound sites and the strongly bound ones do not leach. Zeolites are moderately active and stable. Among them, H-ferrierite especially, despite its small pores, exhibited high activity as well as good recyclability.

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