Hot water extraction of wood at elevated temperatures may be a suitable method to produce hemicellulose-lean pulps and to recover xylan-derived products from the water extract. In this study, water extractions of birch wood were conducted at temperatures between 180 and 240 °C in a batch reactor. Xylan was extensively removed, whereas cellulose was partly degraded only at temperatures above 180 °C. Under severe extraction conditions, acetic acid content in the water extract was higher than the corresponding amount of acetyl groups in wood. In addition to oligo- and monosaccharides, considerable amounts of furfural and 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) were recovered from the extracts. After reaching a maximum, the furfural yield remained constant with increasing extraction time. This maximum slightly decreased with increasing extraction temperature, suggesting the preferential formation of secondary degradation products from xylose. Kinetic models fitting experimental data are proposed to explain degradation and conversion reactions of xylan and glucan.
- Wood fractionation