Following our previous report on the selective transformation of cellulose to ethylene glycol (EG) over a binary catalyst composed of tungstic acid and Ru/C, we herein report a new low-cost but more effective binary catalyst by using Raney nickel in place of Ru/C (Raney Ni+H2WO4). In addition to tungstic acid, other W compounds were also investigated in combination with Raney Ni. The results showed that the EG yield depended on the W compound: H4SiW12O40<H3PW12O40<WO3<H2WO4, but all the investigated W compounds were selective towards EG. Moreover, both WO3 and H2WO4 were dissolved partially under the reaction conditions and transformed into HxWO3, which is the genuinely active species for the CC bond breakage of cellulose. This result further confirmed that the reaction that involves the selective breakage of the CC bonds of cellulose with W species is homogenous. Among various binary catalysts, the combination of Raney Ni and H2WO4 gave the highest yield of EG (65 %), which could be attributed to the high activity of Raney Ni for hydrogenation and its inertness for the further degradation of EG. Moreover, Raney Ni+H2WO4 showed good reusability; it could be reused at least 17 times without any decay in the EG yield, which shows its great potential for industrial applications.
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