Brønsted and Lewis Acid Catalyzed Conversion of Pulp Industry Waste Biomass to Levulinic Acid

Katja Lappalainen, Eveliina Kuorikoski, Elise Vanvyve, Yue Dong, Johanna Kärkkäinen, Matti Niemelä, Ulla Lassi

Abstract


Enormous amounts of fiber sludge are generated annually by the pulp industry as a by-product. As a cellulose-rich material, its current usage, mainly as fuel, is inefficient from a material efficiency point of view. This work studied the utilization of fiber sludge from a Finnish and a Swedish pulp mill as a potential feedstock to produce levulinic acid, a valuable platform chemical. The conversion experiments of fiber sludge to levulinic acid were performed in a microwave reactor with a mixture of H2SO4 and Lewis acid as the catalyst. The reaction conditions, which included reaction time and temperature as well as the H2SO4 and Lewis acid concentrations, were studied in detail. The highest levulinic acid yield, 56%, was obtained with Swedish fiber sludge after 60 min at 180 °C with the H2SO4 concentration of 0.3 mol/L and a CrCl3 concentration of 7.5 mmol/L which indicated that the fiber sludge had the potential to be used as feedstock for levulinic acid production.

Keywords


Fiber sludge; Levulinic acid; Microwave irradiation; Catalytic conversion; Brønsted acid; Lewis acid

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