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Issue 9, 2012
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Conversion of cellulose to polyols over promoted nickel catalysts

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Sorbitol is one of the key platform chemicals that can be applied to several industrial applications, including bio-fuels and hydrogen production. Presently there is no commercial heterogeneous catalytic process to produce sorbitol from cellulose due to the low yield and high cost of noble metals required for the conversion. In this paper we describe an aqueous phase hydrolysis–hydrogenation process to convert cellulose to sorbitol using a cheap Ni based catalyst. Monometallic Ni catalysts showed little activity for the reaction, but with the addition of a small amount of Pt to the Ni catalyst (Ni : Pt = 22 : 1 atom ratio), the activity was greatly enhanced. Results showed that the bimetallic Ni–Pt catalysts supported on mesoporous alumina gave a hexitol (sorbitol + mannitol) yield of 32.4% compared to only 5% with a Ni catalyst. Moreover, Ni–Pt supported on a mesoporous beta zeolite support provided even higher yield of 36.6%. These results were obtained after only 6 hours of run at 200 °C and 50 bar H2 pressure (at room temperature). The presence of a small amount of Pt promotes the protonation of water and hydrogen molecules, which spill over to Ni sites creating in situ acid sites to catalyse hydrolysis of cellulose.

Graphical abstract: Conversion of cellulose to polyols over promoted nickel catalysts

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Article information

27 Feb 2012
14 May 2012
First published
14 May 2012

Catal. Sci. Technol., 2012,2, 1852-1858
Article type

Conversion of cellulose to polyols over promoted nickel catalysts

A. Shrotri, A. Tanksale, J. N. Beltramini, H. Gurav and S. V. Chilukuri, Catal. Sci. Technol., 2012, 2, 1852
DOI: 10.1039/C2CY20119D

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