Obtaining lignocellulosic biomass-based catalysts and their catalytic activity in cellobiose hydrolysis and acetic acid esterification reactions
Global challenges prompt the world to modify its strategies and shift from a fossil-fuel-based economy to a bio-resource-based one with the production of renewable biomass chemicals. Different processes exist that allow the transformation of raw biomass into desirable bio-based products and/or energy. In this work different biochars that were obtained as a by-product from birch chip fast pyrolysis and carbonization were used as is or chemically/physically treated. These sulfonated carbon catalysts were compared to a commercially available sulfonated styrene-divinylbenzene macroreticular resin (Dowex 50W X8). Characterisation (water content and pH value, FTIR, base titration, element analysis and N2 desorption) was done to evaluate the obtained sulfonated biocarbon catalysts. Catalytic activity was tested using cellobiose (CB) hydrolysis and acetic acid esterification. For the catalytic CB hydrolysis, we tested the reaction temperature, time and CB and catalyst mass ratios. The determined optimal conditions were 120 °C and 24 h, with CB and catalyst mass ratio 1 : 5. The highest glucose yield was observed for biochar obtained from the birch chip fast pyrolysis process (BC_Py-H2SO4) – 92% within 24 h for 120 °C. Comparably high glucose yield was observed for biochar that was obtained in birch chip carbonization (BC_Carbon-H2SO4) – 86% within 24 h for 120 °C.