Sulfonated dendritic mesoporous silica nanospheres: a metal-free Lewis acid catalyst for the upgrading of carbohydrates
Lignocellulosic biomass is becoming a viable alternative or complementary source for petroleum-derived products in the attainment of fuels, polymers and fine chemicals, among others. Nevertheless, the successful upgrading of lignocellulosics requires the design of efficient and robust catalysts, where sulfonated mesoporous silica materials may be an ideal choice for exploration. Herein, we have conducted the upgrading of several mono-, di- and polysaccharides such as xylose, fructose, glucose, sucrose and cellulose to valuable platform chemicals using a novel catalyst comprising sulfonated dendritic mesoporous silica nanospheres. Additionally, a thorough comparative study was conducted encompassing arrays of sulfonated silicas as catalysts with the aim of relating their activities and appreciating the features which could be responsible for their activity.