Hydrothermal Conversion of Carbohydrates

Biomass is considered as promising carbon-neutral alternative to fossil chemical feedstock. For biomass conversion, water under subcritical conditions provides an appropriate environment. Here is demonstrated that microwave irradiation allows a direct heat transfer and thus a higher energy input, since hydrothermal reactions require fast and efficient heating.


Due to the desire for green fuel production, biomass conversion gains increasing attention as it is a widely unexploited source for the platform chemicals like levulinic acid and 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (5-HMF).

Microwave-assisted heating in a closed system enables the study of the hydrothermal conversion of biomass in subcritical water - offering a suitable reaction medium, as acid- and base-catalyzed organic reactions as well as reactions involving water as reactant (hydrolysis, dehydrations) are the preferred reaction type.1

The results of microwave-assisted hydrothermal treatment of fructose and glucose under subcritical conditions are presented.

[1] M. Möller, P. Nilges, F. Harnisch and U. Schröder, ChemSusChem, 2011, 4, 566-579. 

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