Furfural is a versatile platform molecule for the synthesis of various chemicals and fuels, and it can be produced by acid-catalyzed dehydration of xylose derived from renewable biomass resources. A series of metal salts and ionic liquids were investigated to obtain the best combination of catalyst and solvent for the conversion of xylose into furfural. A furfural yield of 71.1% was obtained at high xylose loading (20 wt%) from the single-phasic reaction system whereby SnCl4
was used as catalyst and ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bromide (EMIMBr) was used as reaction medium. Moreover, the combined catalyst consisting of 5 mol% SnCl4
and 5 mol% MgCl2
also produced a high furfural yield (68.8%), which was comparable to the furfural yield obtained with 10 mol% SnCl4
. The water–organic solvent biphasic systems could improve the furfural yield compared with the single aqueous phase. Although these organic solvents could form biphasic systems with ionic liquid EMIMBr, the furfural yield decreased remarkably compared with the single EMIMBr phase. Besides, the EMIMBr/SnCl4
system with appropriate water was also efficient to convert xylan and lignocellulosic biomass corn stalk into furfural, obtaining furfural yields as high as 57.3% and 54.5%, respectively.
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