Starbon®450-SO3H: a green mesoporous carbonaceous solid acid catalyst for furfural production

Gerardo Gomez Millan, Mikko Mäkelä, Alina Balu, Rafael Luque, Jordi Llorca, Herbert Sixta

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterScientific


The production of furfural (FUR) at industrial scale is associated with high reaction temperatures (approximately 200 °C) and mineral acids (usually sulfuric and hydrochloric acids) that have various process drawbacks, such as the production of toxic effluents, equipment corrosion and consumption of high stripping-steam-to-FUR ratios. Furthermore, the number of side reactions under these conditions limits FUR yields to approximately 50%.1 Recent research in this field has focused on increasing the FUR yield with reusable solid acid catalysts to replace typically used homogenous acid catalyzed conditions. A wide range of solid acid catalysts for this purpose have been developed to produce FUR from xylose, such as: zirconia, alumina, zeolites, aluminosilicates supported with metals, modified silica, sulfonated graphenes, heteropolyacids, coated activated carbon and resins. However, one of the main challenges of heterogeneous catalysis is the hydrothermal stability of the solid catalysts and the blocking of active sites by humins.2 Recent reports shows that carbonaceous materials such as Starbon were found to be the best candidates, among solid acids, in various acid catalysed reactions.3 In this work the formation of furfural (FUR) from xylose was investigated under heterogeneously catalyzed conditions with sulfonated Starbon (STARBON®450-SO3H) as a catalyst in a biphasic system. The experiments were perfomed based on a statistical experimental design. The variables considered were time, temperature and the ratio of aqueous to organic phase. The results indicate that sulfonated Starbon is an effective solid acid catalyst for furfural formation. Starbon materials were characterised by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform (DRIFT), N2-physisorption, Raman spectroscopy and titration with pyridine. The maximum furfural yield and selectivity of 70 mol% were achieved with complete xylose conversion under the optimum experimental conditions. The present work suggests that functionalized Starbon can be employed as an efficient solid acid catalyst that has significant hydrothermal stability and can be reused for several cycles to produce furfural from xylose.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2019
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventMeeting on Nanochemistry and Nanotechnology - University of Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
Duration: 21 Jan 201922 Jan 2019
Conference number: 7


ConferenceMeeting on Nanochemistry and Nanotechnology
Abbreviated titleNANOUCO
Internet address


  • Starbon
  • Xylose
  • Furfural
  • CPME
  • Biomass
  • Heterogeneous catalysis


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