Skip to main content


Official Journal of the Japan Wood Research Society

Journal of Wood Science Cover Image

Saccharification of cellulose by dry pyrolysis

Article metrics


Pyrolysis of cellulose was studied for the purpose of practical production of 1,6-anhydro-β-D-glucopyranoside (levoglucosan, LG). To minimize secondary degradation of levoglucosan, two methods were examined: (1) conductive heating by glass bottle, and (2) radiation heating from the surface by CO2 laser beam, both under vacuum and in a nitrogen atmosphere. Glass-bottle pyrolysis under vacuum gave levoglucosan yield of 50%–55% in the optimum temperature range of 350°–410°C, where placing the cold trap in the vicinity of heated area was effective in improving the yield. In contrast, glass-bottle pyrolysis under nitrogen gave low yields of 17%–20%, probably due to slower diffusion of pyrolysis product from hot region. The CO2 laser pyrolysis under vacuum gave the product as aerosol (white smoke), causing difficulty in recovery of the product, and the maximum yield was 5%–17%. In this case the treatment under nitrogen flow was effective for recovery of aerosol, and the maximum yield reached approximately 25%.


  1. 1.

    Shafizadeh F (1968) Pyrolysis and combustion of cellulosic materials. Adv Carbohydr Chem 23:419–474

  2. 2.

    Černý M, Staněk J (1977) 1,6-Anhydro derivatives of aldohexoses. Adv Carbohydr Chem Biochem 34:23–177

  3. 3.

    Shafizadeh F, Furneaux RH, Cochran TG, Scholl JP, Sakai Y (1979) Production of levoglucosan and glucose from pyrolysis of cellulosic materials. J Appl Polym Sci 23:3525–3539

  4. 4.

    Radlein D, Piskorz J, Scott DS (1991) Fast pyrolysis of natural polysaccharides as a potential industial process. J Anal Appl Pyrol 19:41–63

  5. 5.

    Černý M (1994) 1,6;2,3-and 1,6;3,4-dianhydro-β-D-hexopyranoses synthesis and preparative applications. In: Witczak ZJ (ed) Levoglucosenone and levoglucosans: chemistry and applications. ATL, MA, pp 122–146

  6. 6.

    Schuerch C (1981) Synthesis and polymerization of anhydro sugars. Adv Carbohydr Chem Biochem 39:157–212

  7. 7.

    Kulkarni SS, Lee J-C, Hung S-C (2004) Recent advances in the application of D-and L-form 1,6-anhydrohexopyranoses for the synthesis of oligosaccharides and nature products. Curr Org Chem 8:475–509

  8. 8.

    Nakamura H, Arata K, Wakamatsu T, Ban Y, Shibasaki M (1990) Alkylated levoglucosan in organic-synthesis — a formal total synthesis of elaiophylin. Chem Pharm Bull 38:2435–2441

  9. 9.

    Ostrowski J, Altenbach H-J, Wischnat R, Brauer DJ (2003) An aza analogue of iso-levoglucosenone: synthesis and application of a new building block for imino sugars. Eur J Org Chem 2003:1104–1110

  10. 10.

    Madison SA, Keehn PM (1986) Organic chemistry by infrared lasers-5. Pulsed CO2 laser induced photoablative decomposition of biomass materials. J Anal Appl Pyrol 9:237–246

  11. 11.

    Miura M, Kaga H, Yoshida T, Ando K (2001) Microwave pyrolysis of cellulosic materials for the production of anhydrosugars. J Wood Sci 47:502–506

  12. 12.

    Suzuki J, Azuma J, Koshijima T, Okamura K, Okamoto H (1983) Characterization of mono-and oligosaccharides produced by CO2 laser irradiation on cellulose. Chem Lett 12:481–484

  13. 13.

    Hattori N, Matano T, Okamoto H, Okamura K (1988) Microscopic observations of the solid products deposited on the edge of papers by CO2 laser cutting. Mokuzai Gakkaishi 34:417–422

  14. 14.

    Ward RB (1963) 1,6-Anhydro-β-D-glucopyranose (levoglucosan). In: Whistler RL, Wolform ML (eds) Methods in carbohydrate chemistry II. Academic, London, pp 394–396

  15. 15.

    Nordin SB, Nyren JO, Back EL (1974) An indication of molten cellulose produced in a laser beam. Textile Res J 44:152–154

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Shigenori Kuga.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Key words

  • Cellulose
  • Pyrolysis
  • Levoglucosan
  • 1,6-Anhydro-β-D-glucopyranoside
  • CO2 laser