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Efficient conversion of cellulose to methyl levulinate over heteropoly acid promoted by Sn-Beta zeolite

  • Shengqiang Zhou
  • Xiaomei Yang
  • Yali Zhang
  • Lingyun Jiang
  • Lipeng ZhouEmail author
  • Tianliang Lu
  • Yunlai Su
Original Research


One-pot conversion of cellulose to valued-added platform chemicals such as alkyl levulinate is a promising and challenging process of biomass utilization due to the insolubility of cellulose in alcohol. In this work, commercial heteropoly acid combined with postsynthesized Sn-Beta zeolite was employed to transform cellulose to methyl levulinate (MLE) in one pot. The synergistic catalysis of the homogeneous strong Brønsted (B) acid and the solid strong Lewis (L) acid can effectively realize the depolymerization of solid cellulose and the subsequent isomerization, dehydration and hydration steps to MLE. 55% and 62% of MLE yields were obtained from α-cellulose and microcrystalline cellulose, respectively, at 160 °C for 10 h. Various carbohydrates besides cellulose can also be efficiently converted to MLE in high yields over the bifunctional catalyst system. The effects of the amount of B acid and L acid, the reaction temperature and time and the amount of cellulose on the production of MLE were investigated in detail. Finally, the reaction pathway of cellulose to MLE was revealed. Recyclability tests indicated that the binary catalyst can be reused without decrease of catalytic activity.

Graphic abstract


Methyl levulinate Cellulose Sn-Beta Heteropoly acid 



We acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant: 21503192), the State Key Laboratory of Catalysis in DICP (N-16-02). The program of Young Key Teacher of Zhengzhou University is also acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10570_2019_2743_MOESM1_ESM.docx (550 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 549 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shengqiang Zhou
    • 1
  • Xiaomei Yang
    • 1
  • Yali Zhang
    • 1
  • Lingyun Jiang
    • 1
  • Lipeng Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tianliang Lu
    • 2
  • Yunlai Su
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Chemistry and Molecular EngineeringZhengzhou UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.School of Chemical Engineering and EnergyZhengzhou UniversityZhengzhouChina

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