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Molecules 2015, 20(12), 21232-21253; doi:10.3390/molecules201219760

Hydrothermal Conversion of Giant Reed to Furfural and Levulinic Acid: Optimization of the Process under Microwave Irradiation and Investigation of Distinctive Agronomic Parameters

1
Department of Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry, University of Pisa, Via Giuseppe Moruzzi 13, Pisa 56124, Italy
2
Land Lab, Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, P.za Martiri della Libertà 33, Pisa 56127, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Giancarlo Cravotto and Farid Chemat
Received: 12 October 2015 / Revised: 16 November 2015 / Accepted: 23 November 2015 / Published: 30 November 2015
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Abstract

The hydrothermal conversion of giant reed (Arundo donax L.) to furfural (FA) and levulinic acid (LA) was investigated in the presence of dilute hydrochloric acid. FA and LA yields were improved by univariate optimization of the main reaction parameters: concentration of the acid catalyst, solid/liquid ratio of the reaction mixture, hydrolysis temperature, and reaction time. The catalytic performances were investigated adopting the efficient microwave (MW) irradiation, allowing significant energy and time savings. The best FA and LA yields were further confirmed using a traditionally heated autoclave reactor, giving very high results, when compared with the literature. Hydrolysis temperature and time were the main reaction variables to be carefully optimized: FA formation needed milder reaction conditions, while LA more severe ones. The effect of the crop management (e.g., harvest time) on FA/LA production was discussed, revealing that harvest time was not a discriminating parameter for the further optimization of both FA and LA production, due to the very high productivity of the giant reed throughout the year. The promising results demonstrate that giant reed represents a very interesting candidate for a very high contemporary production of FA and LA of up to about 70% and 90% of the theoretical yields, respectively. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrothermal process; giant reed; furfural; levulinic acid; dilute hydrochloric acid; homogeneous catalysis; microwave hydrothermal process; giant reed; furfural; levulinic acid; dilute hydrochloric acid; homogeneous catalysis; microwave
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Antonetti, C.; Bonari, E.; Licursi, D.; Nassi o Di Nasso, N.; Raspolli Galletti, A.M. Hydrothermal Conversion of Giant Reed to Furfural and Levulinic Acid: Optimization of the Process under Microwave Irradiation and Investigation of Distinctive Agronomic Parameters. Molecules 2015, 20, 21232-21253.

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