Dehydration of Glucose to 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural Using Nb-doped Tungstite

Chaochao Yue, Guanna Li, Evgeny A. Pidko, Jan J. Wiesfeld, Marcello Rigutto, Emiel J. M. Hensen

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Dehydration of glucose to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) remains a significant problem in the context of the valorization of lignocellulosic biomass. Hydrolysis of WCl6 and NbCl5 leads to precipitation of Nb-containing tungstite (WO3H2O) at low Nb content and mixtures of tungstite and niobic acid at higher Nb content. Tungstite is a promising catalyst for the dehydration of glucose to HMF. Compared with Nb2O5, fewer by-products are formed because of the low BrOnsted acidity of the (mixed) oxides. In water, an optimum yield of HMF was obtained for Nb-W oxides with low Nb content owing to balanced Lewis and BrOnsted acidity. In THF/water, the strong Lewis acidity and weak BrOnsted acidity caused the reaction to proceed through isomerization to fructose and dehydration of fructose to a partially dehydrated intermediate, which was identified by LC-ESI-MS. The addition of HCl to the reaction mixture resulted in rapid dehydration of this intermediate to HMF. The HMF yield obtained in this way was approximately 56% for all tungstite catalysts. Density functional theory calculations show that the Lewis acid centers on the tungstite surface can isomerize glucose into fructose. Substitution of W by Nb lowers the overall activation barrier for glucose isomerization by stabilizing the deprotonated glucose adsorbate.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2421-2429
Number of pages9
Issue number17
StatePublished - Aug 5 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge financial support by Shell Global Solutions International. This work was partly supported by the Netherlands Center for Multiscale Catalytic Energy Conversion (MCEC), an NWO Gravitation program funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of the government of the Netherlands.


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