Acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of cellulose and cellulosic waste using a microwave reactor system

Angela M. Orozco*, Ala'A H. Al-Muhtaseb, Ahmad B. Albadarin, David Rooney, Gavin M. Walker, Mohammad N.M. Ahmad

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


A microwave reactor system was investigated as a potential technique to maximize sugar yield for the hydrolysis of municipal solid waste for ethanol production. Specifically, dilute acid hydrolysis of α-cellulose and waste cellulosic biomass (grass clippings) with phosphoric acid was undertaken within the microwave reactor system. The experimental data and reaction kinetic analysis indicate that the use of a microwave reactor system can successfully facilitate dilute acid hydrolysis of cellulose and waste cellulosic biomass, producing high yields of total sugars in short reaction times. The maximum yield of reducing sugars was obtained at 7.5% (w/v) phosphoric acid and 160°C, corresponding to 60% of the theoretical total sugars, with a reaction time of 5 min. When using a very low acid concentration (0.4% w/v) for the hydrolysis in the microwave reactor, it was found that 10 g of total sugars/100 g dry mass was produced, which is significant considering the low acid concentration. When hydrolyzing grass clippings using the microwave reactor, the optimum conditions were an acid concentration of 2.5% (w/v), 175°C with a 15 min reaction time, giving 18 g/100 g dry mass of total sugars, with xylose being the sugar with the highest yield. It was observed that pentose sugars were more easily formed but also more easily degraded, these being significantly affected by increases in acid concentration and temperature. Kinetic modeling of the data indicated that the use of microwave heating may account for an increase in reaction rate constant, k1, found in this study in comparison with conventional systems described in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)839-846
Number of pages8
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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