Developing renewable, plant-based alternatives for petroleum-derived chemicals is a major piece of the effort to transition away from a fossil-fuel based economy toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based economy.
Developing renewable, plant-based alternatives for petroleum-derived chemicals is a major piece of the effort to transition away from a fossil-fuel based economy toward a more sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-based economy. But integration of novel and unproven technology into existing industrial systems carries an element of risk that has made commercialization of such advances a significant challenge.
In new research, published recently in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, a team from the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the University of Wisconsin–Madison describe an efficient and economically feasible process for producing HMF — 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, a versatile plant-derived chemical considered crucial for building a renewable economy.
What’s more, the process is simple and compatible with the existing infrastructure in the high fructose corn syrup industry, the researchers show.
“We integrated into a current process to reduce the initial risk quite a bit and decrease the initial capital required to put things on the ground to prove the technology,” says Ali Hussain Motagamwala, who led the project while a UW–Madison graduate student in chemical and biological engineering.
Read more at University of Wisconsin-Madison
Image: An inexpensive, industry-compatible process developed by researchers at UW–Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center produces high yields of the versatile chemical HMF, which is used to make many bio-based chemicals, plastics and fuels. Deepening orange hues in these vials reflect higher levels of HMF produced with longer reaction times. (Credit: ALI HUSSAIN MOTAGAMWALA)