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Keywords:

  • furfural;
  • fuel precursor;
  • lignocellulosic biomass;
  • biorefinery;
  • biofuels;
  • biochemicals

Abstract

Furfural is a natural precursor to furan-based chemicals and has the potential to become a major renewable platform chemical for the production of biochemicals and biofuels. However, current industrial furfural production relies on relatively old and inefficient strategies that have hindered its capacity, and low production yields have strongly diminished its competitiveness with petroleum-based alternatives in the global market. This mini-review provides a critical analysis of past and current progress to enhance furfural production from lignocellulosic biomass. First, important chemical and fuel products derived from the catalytic conversion of furfural are outlined. We then discuss the importance of developing integrated production strategies to co-produce furfural with other valuable chemicals. Furfural formation and loss chemistries are explored to understand effective methods to improve furfural yields from pentosans. Finally, selected relevant commercial and academic technologies that promise to improve lignocellulosic furfural production are discussed. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry