Production of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural from starch-rich food waste catalyzed by sulfonated biochar

Leichang Cao, Iris K.M. Yu, Season S. Chen, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Lei Wang, Xinni Xiong, Shicheng Zhang, Yong Sik Ok, Eilhann E. Kwon, Hocheol Song, Chi Sun Poon

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfonated biochar derived from forestry wood waste was employed for the catalytic conversion of starch-rich food waste (e.g., bread) into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). Chemical and physical properties of catalyst were characterized by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET) surface area, and elemental analysis. The conversion of HMF was investigated via controlling the reaction parameters such as catalyst loading, temperature, and reaction time. Under the optimum reaction conditions the HMF yield of 30.4 Cmol% (i.e., 22 wt% of bread waste) was achieved in the mixture of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO)/deionized-water (DIW) at 180 °C in 20 min. The effectiveness of sulfonated biochar catalyst was positively correlated to the density of strong/weak Brønsted acidity (–SO 3H, –COOH, and –OH groups) and inversely correlated to humins content on the surface. With regeneration process, sulfonated biochar catalyst displayed excellent recyclability for comparable HMF yield from bread waste over five cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-82
Number of pages7
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Biomass valorization
  • Brønsted acid
  • Engineered/designer biochar
  • HMF
  • Organic waste recycling
  • Solid catalyst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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