The kinetics of the acid-catalysed hydrolysis of cellobiose in the ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride, [C(2)mim]Cl, was studied as a model for general lignocellulosic biomass hydrolysis in ionic liquid systems. The results show that the rate of the two competing reactions, polysaccharide hydrolysis and sugar decomposition, vary with acid strength, and that for acids with an aqueous pK(a) below approximately zero, the hydrolysis reaction is significantly faster than the degradation of glucose, thus allowing hydrolysis to be performed with a high selectivity in glucose. In tests with soluble cellulose, hemicellulose (xylan), and lignocellulosic biomass (Miscanthus grass), comparable hydrolysis rates were observed with bond scission occurring randomly along the biopolymer chains, in contrast to end-group hydrolysis observed with aqueous acids.
Vanoye, L., Fanselow, M., Holbrey, J. D., Atkins, M. P., & Seddon, K. R. (2009). Kinetic model for the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass in the ionic liquid, 1-ethyl-3-methyl-imidazolium chloride†. Green Chemistry, 11(3), 390-396. https://doi.org/10.1039/b817882h