Author(s): Suganumaa S, Nakajimaa K, Kitanob M, Yamaguchib D, Katoa H
SO3H-bearing amorphous carbon, prepared by partial carbonization of cellulose followed by sulfonation in fuming H2SO4, was applied as a solid catalyst for the acid-catalyzed hydrolysis of β-1,4 glucan, including cellobiose and crystalline cellulose. Structural analyses revealed that the resulting carbon material consists of graphene sheets with 1.5 mmol g−1 of SO3H groups, 0.4 mmol g−1 of COOH, and 5.6 mmol g−1 of phenolic OH groups. The carbon catalyst showed high catalytic activity for the hydrolysis of β-1,4 glycosidic bonds in both cellobiose and crystalline cellulose. Pure crystalline cellulose was not hydrolyzed by conventional strong solid Brønsted acid catalysts such as niobic acid, Nafion® NR-50, and Amberlyst-15, whereas the carbon catalyst efficiently hydrolyzes cellulose into water-soluble saccharides. The catalytic performance of the carbon catalyst is due to the large adsorption capacity for hydrophilic reactants and the adsorption ability of β-1,4 glucan, which is not adsorbed to other solid acids.