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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Advances in catalytic transformations of carbohydrates and lignin in ionic liquids and mechanistic studies

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In biomass refinery, ionic liquids (ILs) enable more efficient conversion and higher product selectivity at milder conditions compared with conventional molecular solvents. Carbohydrates and lignin are the dominating components in biomass. The aim of this article is to update the recent progresses of ionic liquids‐based catalytic systems for lignocellulosic biomass conversions based on the published works mostly in the last 5 years. Mechanistic understanding of the catalytic processes in converting biomass to renewable chemicals and fuels is critically important for the design of superior catalysts. Apart from theoretical approaches, two recently developed characterization techniques, in situ far infrared spectroscopy and two‐dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance have been applied in the molecular level understanding of both catalysts and catalyzed reactions during biomass conversions in ILs. The major challenges and opportunities involved in the large‐scale production of biomass platform chemicals are also discussed.

This article is categorized under:

  • Bioenergy > Science and Materials
Chemical structures of the typical ionic liquids (ILs) cations and anions. (Reproduced with permission from Dong et al., . Copyright 2017 Royal Society of Chemistry)
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2D (HSQC) NMR spectra of lignin (a, b, c) and of THF soluble products (d, e, f) obtained in the [C3SO3HMIM][HSO4] catalyzed reaction. All the spectra were obtained after dissolving samples in DMSO‐d6 (Reproduced with permission from Singh & Dhepe, . Copyright 2016 The Royal Society of Chemistry)
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Far‐infrared spectra of the CrCl3/[BMIM]Cl/glucose reaction system and CrCl3/[BMIM]Cl in the presence of different probing model compounds: (a) CrCl3/[BMIM]Cl/glucose system; (b) Cr−Cl stretching vibration in the CrCl3/[BMIMCl]/cyclohexanone system; (c) Cr−Cl stretching vibration in the CrCl3/[BMIMCl]/n‐butanol system; (d) Cr−Cl stretching vibration in the CrCl3/[BMIM]Cl/water system. The far infrared spectra in (a)–(d) were recorded at 100°C immediately after adding the model compounds. The background spectra of the CrCl3/ [BMIM]Cl system were taken before addition of model compounds. The arrows in (b)–(d) represent the recovery of the Cr−Cl coordination bond during evaporation of the model compounds. (Reproduced with permission from Li et al., . Copyright 2014 American Chemical Society)
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Ionic liquid medium and Brønsted acidic ionic liquids used in this study and approach to cleavage and conversion of reactive intermediates.(Reproduced from Scott, Deuss, de Vries, Prechtl, & Barta, with permission Copyright 2016 The Royal Society of Chemistry)
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Structures of the building block monomeric aromatic precursors of lignin
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Chemical route for one‐pot conversion of biomass saccharides to biofuel intermediates (Reproduced with permission from Li et al., . Copyright 2017 Royal Society of Chemistry)
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Pretreatment of the eucalyptus bark residues with protic ionic liquid (PIL) or combined ionic liquid (CIL) for enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulose (Reproduced with permission from Zhang et al., . Copyright 2015 Elsevier Ltd.)
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The conversion of cellulose for eucalyptus bark before and after ASF‐ILs pretreatment. (Reproduced with permission from Yan et al., . Copyright 2015 Royal Society of Chemistry)
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