An ionic liquid reaction and separation process for production of hydroxymethylfurfural from sugars


  • This article was nominated by Professor Suojiang Zhang (Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences) – section chair of International Forum on Energy Sustainability as the Best Presentation during the AIChE Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, Oct. 28-Nov. 2, 2012.


Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is viewed as a potential platform material to make a variety of chemicals and products out of renewable resources. In this work, a complete ionic liquid reaction and separation process is presented for nearly stoichiometric conversion of fructose into HMF. The silicalite adsorbent material is demonstrated for separation of 99% pure HMF out of ionic liquid reaction mixtures through a packed column and for recovery of the unconverted sugars and reaction intermediates along with the ionic liquid. Membrane-coated silicalite particles are prepared and studied for a practical adsorption process with separation performances comparable to or better than the powder material. It is discovered that nearly all the fresh fructose feed could be converted into HMF with the recycled ionic liquid under suitable reaction conditions. These research results lead to a new HMF production process much simpler than the current paraxylene manufacturing process from petroleum oil. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 300–314, 2014