Kinetics of Levoglucosenone Isomerization

Siddarth H. Krishna, Theodore W. Walker, James A. Dumesic, George W. Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We studied the acid-catalyzed isomerization of levoglucosenone (LGO) to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and developed a reaction kinetics model that describes the experimental data across a range of conditions (100–150 °C, 50–100 mm H2SO4, 50–150 mm LGO). LGO and its hydrated derivative exist in equilibrium under these reaction conditions. Thermal and catalytic degradation of HMF are the major sources of carbon loss. Within the range of conditions studied, higher temperatures and shorter reaction times favor the production of HMF. The yields of HMF and levulinic acid decrease monotonically as tetrahydrofuran is added to the aqueous solvent system, indicating that water plays a role in the LGO isomerization reaction. Initial-rate analyses show that HMF is produced solely from LGO rather than from the hydrated derivative of LGO. The results of this study are consistent with a mechanism for LGO isomerization that proceeds through hydration of the anhydro bridge, followed by ring rearrangement analogous to the isomerization of glucose to fructose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-hydroxymethylfurfural
  • biomass
  • isomerization
  • kinetics
  • levoglucosenone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • General Energy


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