Student Summer Scholars


Cellulose Conversion, Cellobiose




Included in

Chemistry Commons




Biomass-derived feedstock is of growing importance in the development of new synthetic pathways for commodity and specialty chemicals. Utilizing basic catalytic concepts such as hydrolysis, dehydration, isomerisation, and other common transformations of sugar in biomass conversion has already produced significant advances in the fundamental understanding of biomass conversion.

Despite the progress that has already been made, very few studies are dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of cellulose conversion under heterogeneous catalytic conditions. This is due to the complexity of both the catalytic steps at the metal/support interface and the structure of cellulose itself, being a highly functionalized homopolymer, characterized by hydrophilicity, chirality, and biodegrability. Difficulties in cellulose conversion stem from it’s robust structure filled with intramolecular hydrogen bonding.

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Our focus is on Cellobiose, a two-glucose unit dimer. It is ideal as a simplified model for cellulose because of the presence of a single ether-linkage per molecule and its solubility in water. This study aims to refine the fundamentals of Cellobiose conversion under conditions near the critical point of water. Results have shown that, in the presence of a Ru/C catalyst, cellobiose offers high conversion with the primary products being Sorbitol or Mannitol polyols with shorter chain polyols such as xylitol, erythreitol, threitol, and glycerol also present in the reaction mixture.