Direct production of levulinic acid in high yield from cellulose: joint effect of high ion strength and microwave field
Cellulose without any pretreatment was directly converted into levulinic acid (LA) in a microwave-assisted acidic catalytic system with a high ionic strength. The highest LA yield could reach 67.3 mol% within 60 min even when the cellulose concentration was as high as 10 wt%. It is concluded that high ion strength and microwave irradiation were jointly responsible for the fast cellulose conversion and high LA yield, and a cooperative acceleration mechanism is finally proposed. The high ion concentration provided by alkali metal halides not only accelerated the cellulose hydrolysis but also facilitated glucose conversion into LA by shifting the weak acid ionization equilibria, and microwave irradiation further promoted this salt effect by its characteristic heating way of ion conduction. Such a one-pot catalytic system provides a possibility of practical application for direct highly efficient conversion of cellulose due to its green properties, low cost and efficient characteristics.