Dilute acid hydrolysis of paper birch: Kinetics studies of xylan and acetyl-group hydrolysis



Batch hydrolysis kinetics of paper birch (Betula papyrifera) xylan and its associated acetyl groups in dilute sulfuric acid have been measured for acid concentrations of between 0.04 and 0.18M and temperatures of between 100 and 170°C. Only 5% of the cellulose was hydrolyzed for up to 85% xylan removal. Rate data were correlated well by a parallel reaction model based on the existence of reactive and resistant xylan portions. The resulting rate equation predicts the experimental xylan concentrations in the residue to within 10%. Hydrolysis of xylan-associated acetyl groups was found to occur at the same rate as that of xylan, except at 100°C, where acetyl is released preferentially. No effect of acid concentration on the rate of acetyl removal relative to that of xylan was evident.