The aerobic oxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, a versatile biomass-derived chemical, is examined in water with a titania-supported gold-nanoparticle catalyst at ambient temperature (30 °C). The selectivity of the reaction towards 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid and the intermediate oxidation product 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furancarboxylic acid is found to depend on the amount of added base and the oxygen pressure, suggesting that the reaction proceeds via initial oxidation of the aldehyde moiety followed by oxidation of the hydroxymethyl group of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural. Under optimized reaction conditions, a 71 % yield of 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid is obtained at full 5-hydroxymethylfurfural conversion in the presence of excess base.
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