Background: Isomerization of glucose to fructose is recognized as one of the key reactions
for the transformation of cellulosic biomass, a potent substitution for the depleting petroleum resources.
Zeolites are among the most useful catalysts for the isomerization process and substantial achievements
have been achieved thus far. A state-of-the-art review is given within this content, and catalytic mechanisms
and competitive reactions are discussed as well.
Methods: We performed a comprehensive search of literatures and the qualities of retrieved papers were
appraised using standard tools. Literatures that represent the substantial findings are highlighted reflecting
the progresses made with regard to the isomerization of glucose to fructose catalyzed by zeolites.
Results: Substantial achievements have been made with regard to the zeolite-catalyzed isomerization of
glucose to fructose. The joint experimental-computational studies provide insightful clues to reaction
mechanisms; e.g., the isomerization reaction proceeds in sequence of pyranose ring opening, hydride
shift from C2 to C1 (rate-decisive) and furanose ring closure while the epimerization reaction is characterized
by the intramolecular 1,2-carbon shift; Both of the defects SnOH and proximate silanol promote
significantly the isomerization reaction while proximate silanol disfavors the epimerization reaction.
Conclusion: On basis of the fruitful catalytic results obtained thus far, two outlets are put forward that
should be given priority with regard to the utilization of cellulosic biomass, as the combination of the
isomerization reaction with other catalytic processes and the exploitation of the direct transformation of
cellulosic biomass to platform chemicals.