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Preparation of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural from Glucose and Fructose in Ionic Liquids by Reactive Vacuum Distillation Over a Solid Catalyst

[ Vol. 14 , Issue. 4 ]


Mohammad B. Nasirudeen, Helen C. Hailes and Julian R.G. Evans*   Pages 596 - 603 ( 8 )


Background: The production of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) from biomass provides an alternative pathway for many commercial chemicals and polymers particularly for countries with high insolation such as sub-Saharan Africa.

Objective: The goal is continuous or semi-continuous dehydration of glucose and fructose to 5-HMF over a reusable castalyst in a process which is commmercial viable.

Method: We deploy a separable and resuable catalyst, a low volatility solvent and reactive vacuum distillation.

Results: Using a sulfated zirconia (SZ) catalyst in 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride [BMIM]Cl ionic liquid as solvent, we are able to separate the product by reactive vacuum distillation and obtain yields for 5-HMF of 82% and 65% at a 5 g experimental scale using fructose and glucose as substrates in a 2 h reaction time at 180 oC. The ionic liquid and SZ exhibited high activity when recycled for five successive trials.

Conclusion: The low volatility solvent and solid catalyst allow for reactive vacuum distillation taking the sequence of steps from biomass such as Cassava to 5-HMF closer to commercial viability.


5-hydroxymethyl-furfural (5-HMF), catalysis, ionic liquids, cassava.


Department of Chemistry, University College London, 20 Gordon Street LondonWC1H 0AJ

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