Hexeneuronic acid (HexA) is formed under pulping conditions from 4-O-methyl-glucuronic acid residues in xylans by methanol elimination. It is usually removed by an acidic washing treatment (A-stage) within the pulp bleaching sequence. Hexeneuronic acid has long been recognized as a source of color generation in pulps, but the chemical structure of the actual chromophoric compounds remained elusive. We report the synthesis of isotopically (13C) labeled HexA model units carrying a label at any of the six carbon atoms. Confirming pertinent literature accounts, it is shown that HexA forms three primary degradation intermediates, 2-furancarboxylic acid, 5-formyl-2-furancarboxylic acid, and formic acid, under mildly acidic conditions, and their formation mechanism is discussed. 2-Furancarboxylic acid is demonstrated to be deformylation product of 5-formyl-2-furancarboxylic acid. The three primary intermediates are colorless and do not represent chromophores themselves. Their mixture, upon thermal or acidic treatment, gives rise to the same chromophores that are also directly formed from HexA.
Cellulose – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 13, 2017
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