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Keywords:

  • 5-hydroxymethylfurfural;
  • biomass;
  • carbohydrates;
  • ionic liquids;
  • renewable chemicals

Abstract

The synthesis of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) in ionic liquids is a field that has grown rapidly in recent years. Unique dissolving properties for crude biomass in combination with a high selectivity for HMF formation from hexose sugars make ionic liquids attractive reaction media for the production of chemicals from renewable resources. A wide range of new catalytic systems that are unique for the transformation of glucose and fructose to HMF in ionic liquids has been found. However, literature examples of scale-up and process development are still scarce, and future research needs to complement the new chemistry with studies on larger scales in order to find economically and environmentally feasible processes for HMF production in ionic liquids. This Minireview surveys important progress made in catalyst development for the synthesis of HMF in ionic liquids, and proposes future research directions in process technology.