(35e) The Mechanism of Xylose Pyrolysis
For the generation of renewable chemical and fuel resources, the biomass pyrolysis approach is emerging as a front-runner. The most detailed studies of high-temperature conversion have been performed on cellulose, due to its abundance and regular structure. Many similarities, however, are expected for other fractions of cellulosic materials. The mechanism of converting xylose to a volatile compound is critical to most high-temperature decomposition of cellulosic material. In this work, a new experimental technique, capable of elucidating the kinetics and chemical intermediates of biopolymer chemistry, is used to reveal the key details of biomass chemistry in extreme conditions. The technique of PHASR kinetics (Pulsed Heated Analysis of Solid Reactions) enables a millisecond temporal analysis of solid-melt phase reactions at temperatures as high as 600 °C. The energetics associated with the formation of individual compounds is compared with computed energetics, which are determined by a combined computational approach using physics-based modeling (e.g., ab initio and molecular dynamics methods) and reaction network analysis to evaluate mechanisms.