Investigation of factors that inhibit furfural production using metal chloride catalysts

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To increase the furfural yield from corncobs biomass when implementing metal chloride-based catalysts, four different routes that could inhibit furfural production were investigated: hydrolysis of hemicellulose, oxidation of corncobs and xylose, and humins formation. The evaluation was performed at both 90 and 170 °C. The results show that the hydrolysis of hemicellulose is not a factor for inhibiting furfural production at 170 °C while humins formation is. Oxidation of corncobs and xylose are factors for inhibiting furfural production at 90 and 170 °C. A novel method for predicting the activity of a catalyst for furfural production based on the fundamental chemical properties of metal ions (e.g., Lewis acid strengths, oxidizing properties, and solubility products of the corresponding hydroxides) was developed. The proposed method explains why AlCl3 enables the highest furfural production yield among FeCl3, FeCl2, AlCl3, and CuCl2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126271
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural
  • Biomass oxidation
  • Furfural production
  • Hemicellulose hydrolysis
  • Metal chloride catalysts


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