Formic acid is one of the most desirable liquid hydrogen carriers. The selective production of formic acid from monosaccharides in water under mild reaction conditions using solid catalysts was investigated. Calcium oxide, an abundant solid base catalyst available from seashell or limestone by thermal decomposition, was found to be the most active of the simple oxides tested, with formic acid yields of 50 % and 66 % from glucose and xylose, respectively, in 1.4 % H2O2 aqueous solution at 343 K for 30 min. The main reaction pathway is a sequential formation of formic acid from glucose by C−C bond cleavage involving aldehyde groups in the acyclic form. The reaction also involves base-catalyzed aldose-ketose isomerization and retroaldol reaction, resulting in the formation of fructose and trioses including glyceraldehyde and dihydroxyacetone. These intermediates were further decomposed into formic acid or glycolic acid. The catalytic activity remained unchanged for further reuse by a simple post-calcination.
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