Direct Catalytic Conversion of Cellulose into Ethylene Glycol Using Nickel-Promoted Tungsten Carbide Catalysts


  • This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (20325620) and by the United States Department of Energy (DE-FG02-00ER15104). We thank Prof. Guowang Xu and Jing Chen for their help with HPLC–MS analysis.


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Nickel saves dimes: The expense of using precious-metal catalysts is avoided in the high-yielding conversion of cellulose to ethylene glycol (see picture; AC=activated carbon). This process occurs in up to 29 % yield over a tungsten carbide catalyst, and in up to 61 % yield when the catalyst is promoted with a small amount of nickel. An attractive feature of this reaction is the low yields of other polyols with respect to ethylene glycol.