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Efficient Depolymerization of Cellulosic Paper Towel Waste Using Organic Carbonate Solvents

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Publication details

JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
DateE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jul 2020
Issue number34
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)13100-13110
Original languageEnglish


Efficient depolymerization of lignocellulosic biomass is a prerequisite for sugar production and its subsequent upgradation to fuels and chemicals. Organic carbonate solvents, i.e., propylene carbonate (PC), ethylene carbonate (EC), and dimethyl carbonate (DMC), which are low in toxicity and biodegradable, were investigated as "green"co-solvents (PC/H2O, EC/H2O, DMC/H2O, solvent ratio 1:1) for depolymerization of cellulosic paper towel waste. PC/H2O and EC/H2O enhanced the depolymerization of paper towel waste and improved the total sugar yield (up to ∼25 C mol %) compared to H2O only (up to ∼11 C mol %) under mild reaction conditions (130 °C, 20 min). The higher performance of PC/H2O and EC/H2O can be attributed to higher availability of reactive protons in the catalytic system that facilitates efficient acid hydrolysis of recalcitrant cellulosic fibers. Moreover, a substantial buildup of in-vessel pressure by CO2 release during the microwave-assisted reaction because of decomposition of PC or EC might have accelerated the conversion of paper towel wastes. PC and EC are prospective solvents for lignocellulosic biomass conversion considering their green features and notable catalytic performance, which have a good potential for substituting conventional organic solvents such as dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and tetrahydrofuran (THF) that are often considered hazardous in terms of health, safety, and environmental implications.

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© 2020 American Chemical Society. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

    Research areas

  • ethylene carbonate, green solvent, lignocellulose valorization, propylene carbonate, sustainable biorefinery, waste management

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