A series of Lewis acidic metal salts were used for glucose dehydration to 5-hydroymethylfurfural (HMF) in water. Effect of valence state, ionic radii of Lewis acidic cation, and the type of anions on the catalytic performance have been studied systematically. The experimental results showed that the valence state played an important role in determining catalytic activity and selectivity. It was found that a higher glucose conversion rate and HMF selectivity could be obtained over high valent Lewis acid salts, where the ionic radii of these Lewis acidic metal salts are usually relatively small. Analysis on the effect of the anions of Lewis acid salts on the catalytic activity and the selectivity suggested that a higher glucose conversion and HMF selectivity could be readily obtained with Cl−
. Furthermore, the recyclability of high valence state Lewis acid salt was also studied, however, inferior catalytic performance was observed. The deactivation mechanism was speculated to be the fact that high valence state Lewis acid salt was comparatively easier to undergo hydrolysis to yield complicated metal aqua ions with less catalytic activity. The Lewis acidic activity could be recovered by introducing a stoichiometric amount of hydrochloric acid (HCl) to the catalytic before the reaction.
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