Production of sugars from wood using high-pressure hydrogen chloride



Saturating wood particles with HCl gas under pressure was found to be an effective pretreatment prior to subjecting wood to dilute acid hydrolysis. Pretreament is necessary to release sugars from wood because of the tight lattice structure of cellulose. The HCl gas makes the cellulose more susceptible to subsequent acid hydrolysis and the glucose yield is doubled when dilute acid hydrolysis is preceded by HCl saturation at high pressure. The saturation was most effectively performed in a fluidized bed reactor, with pure HCl gas fluidizing an equal volume of ground wood plus inert particles. The fluidized bed effectively dissipated the large amount of heat released upon HCl absorption into the wood. Batch reaction times of 1 h at 315 psia gave glucose yields of 80° and xylose yields of 95° after dilute acid hydrolysis. A model was developed which proposed gas diffusing through the solid as limiting the reaction rate and this was found to effectively describe the HCl-wood reaction in the fluidized bed. The HCl was found to form a stable adduct with the lignin residue in the wood, in a ratio of 3.33 mole of lignin monomer. The adduct was broken upon the addition of water.