Production of 5 Hydroxyethyl Furfural (5-HMF) from Sugars or Carbohydrates

By Solid-solid Grinding, utilization of a Novel Continuous Flow Bi- phasic Reactor and Economical Heterogamous Catalyst

Tech ID: W-17-021


The production of chemicals from biomass, a renewable feedstock, is highly desirable in replacing petrochemicals. Bio-based chemicals, such as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF), can help to replace a large fraction of industrial chemicals and materials derived from fossil resources. 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is identified as the top 10 most valuable platform chemicals by the US Department of Energy since it can be transformed into a variety of high-value green chemical products. For instance, HMF can be converted to 2,5-dimethyllfuran (DMF), a promising biofuel with a higher energy density and less volatility than ethanol. It can also be oxidized to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and luvenic acid (LA), promising intermediates for the production bio-based polymers and plastics. Despite the great potential for HMF, a large scale, cost-effective production process has not been industrially realized.

Description of the invention

Researchers at Western University have developed a cost-effective HMF production, utilizing a continuous-flow biphasic reactor process. Additionally, they have fabricated novel catalysts via a green method, which has the potential to advance the state-of-the-art of HMF production technology.


  • Green process uses aqueous medium as an inexpensive and green solvent
  • High Yield
  • Solvent recycling back to the reactor.
  • Uses simple salts as the phase transfer catalyst to increase the HMF selectivity and yield.
  • Novel, inexpensive and green catalysts
  • Scalable (Development stage: pilot-scale milestone achieved)
  • Using a continuous-flow reactor, enabling large scale industrial and commercial production of HMF.
  • Achieves high selectivity through the suppression of undesirable by-products


  • Green biofuel production
  • Bio-based polymers

IP Status

  • National phase


  • Commercial partner
  • Licensing
  • Development partner

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Colin Macaulay

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