Chemical Intermediate from Biomass-derived Carbohydrate

  • Author: ChemViews
  • Published Date: 30 January 2011
  • Source / Publisher: ChemSusChem/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
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While fuel production from biomass has gained much attention, the use of renewable resources is also very important for the production of chemicals. Chemical intermediates have a much higher value than fuels. These intermediates, traditionally derived from fossil fuels, can be further transformed into solvents, polymers, and specialty chemicals. Currently, only very few compounds of commercial interest are directly synthesized from biomass-derived carbohydrates by using non-enzymatic approaches.

Weiran Yang and Ayusman Sen, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA, have developed a simple method to directly produce 5-methylfurfural (MF) from biomass-derived carbohydrates, by using a biphasic reaction system. With fructose as starting material, 68% MF is obtained in 0.5 h at 90 °C. The homogeneous catalyst RuCl3.xH2O and heterogeneous catalyst Pd/C show similar reactivity for this transformation. Both catalysts are robust and can be recycled without loss of reactivity.

MF is a useful intermediate for the production of pharmaceuticals, chemicals for agriculture, perfumes, and other applications.

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