• carbon;
  • cellobiose;
  • green chemistry;
  • heterogeneous catalysis;
  • waste prevention


The correlation between catalytic performance and structure of a cellulose-derived and carbon-based solid acid (CCSA), an amorphous carbon bearing SO3H, COOH, and phenolic OH groups, was investigated. Sulfonation of partially carbonized cellulose under a N2 atmosphere resulted in the formation of a CCSA, which was amorphous carbon consisting of small polycyclic aromatic carbon sheets with a high density of SO3H groups (ca. 2 mmol g−1). CCSAs were prepared from carbon precursors, which were obtained at temperatures ≤723 K, and exhibited a high catalytic performance for the esterification of acetic acid with ethanol and for the hydrolysis of cellobiose, although the surface areas were small (<5 m2 g−1). In contrast, CCSAs, which were prepared from carbon precursors obtained at ≥823 K, exhibited much lower catalytic activities for both reactions, although the CCSAs had sufficient amounts of SO3H groups. Structural analyses, including spectroscopic analysis of CCSAs with adsorbed probe molecules, revealed that cross-linking between the polycyclic aromatic carbon sheets caused the sharp decrease in activity.