Background: Increasing demands in resource consumption cannot be sustained by a reliance
on fossil fuels because of limited supply and catastrophic consequences to climate change. Cellulose
is being deemed as the most valuable renewable resources and cellulosic biofuels have been
regarded as the most promising candidates to substitute current fossil fuels. This review aims to depict
the state-of-the-art development of solid acidic nanostructured catalysts employed in the selective
conversion of cellulose into glucose, fructose, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and 5-
ethoxymethylfurfural (EMF) via hydrolysis, isomerization, dehydration and etherification.
Methods: We try to describe multiple catalytic processes in the catalytic transformation of cellulose
into glucose, fructose, HMF and EMF promoted by nanoscale catalysts. Emphasis is also paid to
discuss plausible reaction pathways mediated by the nanostructured catalysts with different functionalities.
Results: With regards to the efficiently catalytic transformations of cellulose, nano-catalysts are
showing great potential in greener processing, higher yield and selectivity’s and more favorable economics.
5 tables are presented in details in this review in order to describe the different performance
of solid acidic nanostructured catalysts regarding the reaction pathways, including hydrolysis of cellulose
into glucose, isomerization of glucose into fructose, dehydration of fructose into HMF, and
etherification of HMF into EMF. Likewise, 7 schemes are also described to demonstrate the reaction
mechanism of the transformation reactions and the structure-property of the catalysts. This review
depicted the state-of-the-art development of solid acidic nanostructured catalysts employed in the
selective conversion of cellulose chemicals and biofuels regarding the design and optimization of
these materials, and green catalysis.
Conclusion: The catalytic conversion of cellulose into fuels alternative and value-added chemicals
via different types of reactions has attracted considerable concern in both scientific and industrial
communities. Nano-catalysts are showing great potential in greener processing, higher yield and
selectivity’s and more favorable economics. In order to make these processes practical, environmental-
friendly, and cost-competitive, the development of solid catalysis especially nanomaterials
mediated catalytic systems able to operate in the aqueous phase is hence critical.