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Hydrothermal Carbon from Biomass: Structural Differences between Hydrothermal and Pyrolyzed Carbons via 13C Solid State NMR

Abstract : The objective of this paper is to better describe the structure of the hydrothermal carbon (HTC) process and put it in relationship with the more classical pyrolytic carbons. Indeed, despite the low energetic impact and the number of applications described so far for HTC, very little is known about the structure, reaction mechanism, and the way these materials relate to coals. Are HTC and calcination processes equivalent? Are the structures of the processed materials related to each other in any way? Which is the extent of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) inside HTC? In this work, the effect of hydrothermal treatment and pyrolysis are compared on glucose, a good model carbohydrate; a detailed single-quantum double-quantum (SQ-DQ) solid state 13C NMR study of the HTC and calcined HTC is used to interpret the spectral region corresponding to the signal of furanic and arene groups. These data are compared to the spectroscopic signatures of calcined glucose, starch, and xylose. A semiquantitative analysis of the 13C NMR spectra provides an estimation of the furanic-to-arene ratio which varies from 1:1 to 4:1 according to the processing conditions and carbohydrate employed. In addition, we formulate some hypothesis, validated by DFT (density functional theory) modeling associated with 13C NMR chemical shifts calculations, about the possible furan-rich structural intermediates that occur in the coalification process leading to condensed polyaromatic structures. In combination with a broad parallel study on the HTC processing conditions effect on glucose, cellulose, and raw biomass (Falco, C.; Baccile, N.; Titirici, M.-M. Green Chem., 2011, DOI: 10.1039/C1GC15742F), we propose a broad reaction scheme and in which we show that, through HTC, it is possible to tune the furan-to-arene ratio composing the aromatic core of the produced HTC carbons, which is not possible if calcination is used alone, in the temperature range below 350 °C.
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Camillo Falco, Fernando Caballero Perez, Florence Babonneau, Christel Gervais, Guillaume Laurent, et al.. Hydrothermal Carbon from Biomass: Structural Differences between Hydrothermal and Pyrolyzed Carbons via 13C Solid State NMR. Langmuir, American Chemical Society, 2011, 27 (23), pp.14460-14471. ⟨10.1021/la202361p⟩. ⟨hal-01457064⟩

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