Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 17, Issue 1–3, pp 23–32 | Cite as

Thermochemical conversion of polysaccharides in concentrated alkali to glycolic acid

  • John M. Krochta
  • Sandra J. Tillin
  • Joyce S. Hudson
Session 1 Original Papers


Degradation of starch and cellulose in alkaline solutions above 8N NaOH favored the production of glycolic acid. In 16N NaOH, starch and cellulose degraded at 240°C to produce, respectively, 46 and 43% yields of glycolic acid. At these same conditions, 24 and 12% yields of oxalic acid were also produced from starch and cellulose. Raising the amount of starch or cellulose above 10 g in 250 mL 16 N NaOH lowered the percent yields of glycolic and oxalic acids, but increased absolute yields sufficiently to consider larger polysaccharide: 16 N NaOH ratios for commercial use. Substituting KOH for NaOH lowered glycolic and oxalic acid yields, and demonstrated the effect of the alkali cation on the conversion reactions.

Index Entries

Thermochemical alkali cellulose starch glycolic acid oxalic acid 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Krochta
    • 1
  • Sandra J. Tillin
    • 1
  • Joyce S. Hudson
    • 1
  1. 1.Western Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research ServiceUS Department of AgricultureAlbany

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