Abstract Cellobiose hydrolysis into glucose was chosen as a model system for cellulose breakdown to investigate glycosidic bond cleavage. The hydrolysis was enhanced by increased acidity in an inert gas medium, while air-assisted hydrolysis with a neutral solution achieved over 70% glu- cose yield. Hydrogen peroxide, as a stronger oxidant than air, converted cellobiose to carboxyl compounds, which lowered the glucose selectivity. At 150 C, the selectivity from cellobiose to glucose was very low on porous c-Al2O3 supported catalysts, even lower than without a catalyst. When the active metals were prepared on non-porous sup- ports such as spherical alumina (a phase), the overall yield of glucose was dramatically improved at 120 C. Similar improvements were obtained for another disaccharide model, sucrose, which achieved greater than 90% sucrose conversion with selectivity in excess of 90% at 80 C.
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