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Hydrothermal liquefaction of wood chips under supercritical and subcritical water reaction conditions

  • Shimizu, Naoto1, 2
  • Zeng, Bingyao2
  • Kushima, Keisuke2
  • 1 Hokkaido University, Kita 9, Nishi 9, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-8589, Japan , Sapporo (Japan)
  • 2 Hokkaido Univ, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-8589, Japan , Sapporo (Japan)
Published Article
SN Applied Sciences
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Apr 23, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s42452-021-04561-0
Springer Nature


This work describes batch-type hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) treatments of conifer wood chips at 180–425 °C, under either air or nitrogen atmosphere. Such experiments allow efficient extraction of 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF) and other valuable chemical substances, such as glycolic acid and acetic acid, from the lignocellulosic biomass. These compounds and their decomposition products present in the samples after HTL are analyzed and quantified using spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. In general, the relatively higher-pressure nitrogen atmospheric condition is more suitable for obtaining the desired products, relative to the air atmosphere. Based on the quantitative results, the optimal temperatures for producing acetic acid, glycolic acid, and HMF are 300 °C, 250 °C, and 180 °C, respectively. The interesting relationship between HMF yield and temperature is also discussed; as the temperature increases, the yield of HMF first decreases and then increases. This phenomenon is explained by the exothermic nature of the HMF decomposition reaction, which is inhibited by excessively high temperature (in the range from 380 to 425 °C). At moderately high temperatures (optimized conditions; 300 °C), the generation rate of HMF exceeds its decomposition rate, resulting in a high yield of HMF. Based on the results of the experiments conducted in this study, the decomposition mechanism describing HTL treatment of wood chips can be elucidated. This study therefore provides guidance for future work involving HMF extraction from lignocellulosic biomass.

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