Fine Chemicals from Biomass

Fine Chemicals from Biomass

Author: Andrei Dragan

The chemical industry strongly depends on fossil hydrocarbons and organic molecules derived from oil. Using non-renewable natural resources is not sustainable and can increase CO2 emissions. An emerging trend in modern R&D is to replace oil with renewable biomass such as cellulose. Although some progress has been made, it is very difficult to access fine chemicals from natural biomass.

Leonid Romashov and Valentine P. Ananikov, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, have developed a series of biomass-derived fine chemicals containing acetylenic functional groups. Starting from biomass-derived 5-hydrohymethylfurfural (HMF), useful mono- and bis-ethynylfurans (example pictured) were obtained, connecting biomass processing with the syntheses of polymers and furanic pharmaceuticals. The terminal alkyne unit gave a facile access to the variety of chemical transformations. In particular, the products were used in a high-performance Glaser–Eglinton–Hay reaction, a heterocyclization, a Sonogashira coupling reaction, and a Rh-catalyzed polymerization.

Fine chemicals such as those synthesized by the team are organic molecules that are required in the pharmaceutical industry for the synthesis of drugs, in materials science as key monomers, in organic photovoltaics and organic electronics as building blocks, and in many other applications.


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