Hydrothermal dissolution of willow in hot compressed water as a model for biomass conversion

R. Hashaikeh, Z. Fang, I. S. Butler, J. Hawari, J. A. Kozinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Biomass has wide applications as a source of clean energy and as a raw material for different chemical stocks. Dissolution of willow as a model system for biomass conversion has been investigated in the 200-350 °C temperature range. The dissolution process was studied using a batch-type (diamond-anvil cell) and a continuous flow process reactor. A 95% dissolution of willow was achieved. The lignin and hemicellulose in willow were fragmented and dissolved at a temperature as low as 200 °C and a pressure of 10 MPa. Cellulose dissolved in the 280-320 °C temperature range. A dissolution mechanism is proposed, which involves a rapid fragmentation and hydrolysis of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose to form oligomers and other water-soluble products, such as glucose. The re-condensation behavior of the dissolved oligomers is the main challenge for efficient dissolution. A continuous flow process is more effective and simpler in this regard than is a batch process. The results of this work show that hot, compressed water affords a viable alternative to corrosive chemicals and toxic solvents, thereby facilitating the utilization of biomass as a source of renewable fuel and chemical feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1614-1622
Number of pages9
Issue number10-11
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Biomass
  • Hydrothermal
  • Willow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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