Industry-ready process makes plastics chemical from plant sugars

May 12, 2019 |

In Wisconsin, researchers at UW–Madison and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center developed an inexpensive, industry-compatible process to produce high yields of the versatile chemical HMF – 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, which is used to make many bio-based chemicals, plastics and fuels.

The team’s research shows that the process is simple and compatible with the existing infrastructure in the high fructose corn syrup industry.

“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,” said Ali Hussain Motagamwala, who led the project while a UW–Madison graduate student in chemical and biological engineering.

“The solvents that are generally used are expensive themselves, and separation of the solvent and product makes the process even more expensive,” Motagamwala said. “Now we have shown that we can make HMF in really high yield — close to 95% — with an inexpensive solvent system that can be removed very easily.”

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Category: Research

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