The production of lactic acid from chemi-thermomechanical pulps using a chmo-catalytic approach
Previous work has shown that sulfonation and oxidation of chemi-thermomechanical pulps (CTMPs) significantly enhanced enzyme accessibility to cellulose while recovering the majority of carbohydrates in the water-insoluble component. In the work reported here, modified (sulfonated and oxidized) CTMPs derived from hard-and-softwoods were used to produce a DL-mix of lactic acid via a chemo-catalytic approach using lanthanide triflate (Ln (OTf)3) catalysts (Ln = La, Nd, Er, and Yb). It was apparent that sulfonation and oxidation of chemi-thermomechanical pulps (CTMPs) also enhanced Ln(OTf)3 catalyst accessibility to the carbohydrate components of the pulps, with the Er(OTf)3 catalysts resulting in significant lactic acid production. Under optimum conditions (250 °C, 60 min, 0.5 mmol catalyst g？1 biomass), 72% and 67% of the respective total carbohydrate present in the hard-and-softwood CTMPs could be converted to lactic acid compared to the respective 59% and 51% yields obtained after energy-intensive ball milling.