Microwave assisted conversion of microcrystalline cellulose into value added chemicals using dilute acid test

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One of the grand challenges of this century is to transition fuels and chemicals production derived from fossil feedstocks to renewable feedstocks such as cellulosic biomass. Here we describe fast microwave conversion of microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) in water, with dilute acid catalyst to produce valuable platform chemicals. Single 10 min microwave assisted treatment was able to convert >60% of MCC, with >50 mol% yield of desirable products such as glucose, HMF, furfural and levulinic acid. Recycling of residual MCC with make-up fresh MCC resulted in an overall conversion of >93% after 5 cycles while maintaining >60% conversion in each cycle. Addition of isopropanol (70%v/v) as a co-solvent increased the yields of HMF and levulinic acid. This work shows for the first time proof of concept for complete conversion of recalcitrant microcrystalline cellulose in mild conditions of low temperature, dilute acid and short residence time using energy efficient microwave technology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1794-1800
Number of pages7
JournalCarbohydrate Polymers
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2017


  • Microwave
  • Microcrystalline cellulose
  • Glucose
  • Isopropanol
  • Sulfuric acid
  • 5-hydroxymethylfurfural
  • Levulinic acid

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