Catalytic hydrolysis of cellulose to glucose: On the influence of graphene oxide morphology under microwave radiation

E. Frecha, D. Torres, J. Remón, R. Gammons, A. S. Matharu, I. Suelves, J. L. Pinilla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbon nanostructures provide a unique platform for the synthesis of novel catalysts for biomass conversion. In this work, a set of graphene oxide (GO)-based materials (nanofibers (GONF), sheets of few-layers (FLGO), and quantum dots (GOQD)), differing structurally in morphology and size, was prepared from fishbone-carbon nanofibers (CNF) and their catalytic behavior was compared on the hydrolysis of amorphous cellulose under microwave (MW) radiation. First, the influence of the reaction temperature (135-180 ºC), holding time (0-120 min), catalyst morphology and cellulose/water ratio (0.25-2.0 wt%) was thoroughly screened and compared with conventional heating mode. The use of GO morphologies in concert with MW energy showed the potential to achieve similar kinetic profiles than previously reported sulfonated carbons (110 kJ/mol) but using considerably less amount of catalyst (cellulose-to-catalyst ratio 12-fold lower). Overall, the reactivity of the GO-catalyst was related to their degree of oxidation/exfoliation, decreasing as follows: GOQD > FLGO > GONF. Compared with conventional heating, MW-technology enabled higher loadings of cellulose (2.0 vs. 0.25 wt%) to be processed in a shorter time (20 min instead of 24 h), which is a landmark achievement toward process intensification.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109290
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Chemical Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO, Project ENE2017–83854-R ) and the I+D+i project PID2020–115053RB-I00 , funded by MCIN/ AEI/10.13039/501100011033. E.F. also thanks Ibercaja bank entity for a grant-in-aid for foreign research stays (CB 7/19). J.R. is grateful to the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities for the Juan de la Cierva Incorporación (JdC-I) fellowship (Grant Number: IJC2018–037110-I ) awarded. DT is grateful for the Juan de la Cierva Incorporación (JdC-I) fellowship (Grant Number: IJC2020–045553-I ) funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 and by “European Union NextGenerationEU/PRTR”.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors.


  • Carbo-catalysts
  • Cellulose
  • Graphene quantum dots
  • Graphene-oxide materials
  • Hydrolysis
  • Microwave absorbers

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