Description: Conversion of wood to liquid products requires cleavage of bonds which crosslink the wood structure. This study examines a low-severity wood solubilization process utilizing a solvent medium consisting of a small amount of sulfuric acid and a potentially wood-derivable alcohol. In one half hour of reaction time at 250/sup 0/C under 15 psia starting nitrogen pressure, over 95% of the wood (maf) was rendered acetone-soluble. The product is a soft, black, bitumen-like solid at room temperature but readily softens at 140/sup 0/C. Between 25 and 50% of the original wood oxygen, depending on alcohol used, was removed as water. Approximately 2 to 17% of the alcohols were retained in the product. Gel permeation chromatography showed that the product's median molecular weight is around 300. Based on experimental and literature results, a mechanism for wood solubilization is proposed. This involves protonation of the etheric oxygen atoms, leading to subsequent bond scission to form carbonium ions which are stabilized by solvent alkoxylation. At severe conditions, polymerization and condensation reactions result in acetone-insoluble materials.
Date: April 1, 1982
Creator: Yu, S.M.
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