Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2012, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (10): 2349-2354.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201207312

• CATALYSIS AND SURFACE SCIENCE • Previous Articles     Next Articles

One-Pot Catalytic Conversion of Xylose to Furfural on Mesoporous Niobium Phosphate

LI Xiang-Cheng, ZHANG Yu, XIA Yin-Jiang, HU Bi-Cheng, ZHONG-Lin, WANG Yan-Qin, LU Guan-Zhong   

  1. Research Institute of Industrial Catalysis, East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai 200237, P. R. China
  • Received:2012-06-11 Revised:2012-07-30 Published:2012-09-26
  • Supported by:

    The project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (20973058) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, China.


The conversion of xylose to furfural normally involves two steps: the isomerization of xylose to xylulose catalyzed by an enzyme, a base or a Lewis acid, followed by the acid-catalyzed dehydration of xylulose to furfural. To allow a more efficient single-step conversion, a new water-tolerant solid acid catalyst, mesoporous niobium phosphate was synthesized. This synthesis was performed using a soft template approach, with cetyltriethylammonium bromide (CTAB) as the template. The structure and properties of the catalyst thus synthesized were investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), N2 sorption, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), temperature-programmed desorption of NH3 (NH3-TPD), and pyridine sorption FTIR (Py-FTIR). These studies determined that the niobium phosphate not only had a large surface area (>200 m2·g-1) and narrow pore size distribution (3.5 nm), but also had relatively strong Lewis and Brønsted acidity. This catalyst was found to be capable of producing furfural via a simple one-pot process, including the isomerization of xylose to xylulose and subsequent dehydration. The influence of several variables including temperature, mass ratio of xylose/catalyst, and reaction time on the extent of xylose conversion and furfural yield were studied. Under optimal conditions, the yield of furfural in aqueous solution reached 49.8% with 96.5% xylose conversion. It was further determined that both the yield and the separation of furfural could be improved by employing a methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK)/water (volume ratio 7:3) biphase containing NaCl in the aqueous phase, resulting in a 68.4% yield.

Key words: Mesoporous niobium phosphate, Brö, nsted acid, Lewis acid, Xylose, Furfural, Aqueous phase, Biphase


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