Furfural – Past and Future

Furfural ("FF") family – Genealogy and promising next generation. Furfural is the chemical precursor for furfuryl alcohol ("FA"), tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (THFA), furoic acid, furfurylamine, methylfuran and furan. From furan, tetrahydrofuran (THF) is derived, which is the precursor for polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG).

PTMEG is the largest user for THF: About 80% of THF is converted to PTMEG.

The balance is used as a solvent in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) cements, pharmaceuticals and coatings. Global consumption is in the order of ±500,000 tons per year.

Regrettably for the furfural industry, the bulk of the global THF production is derived from 1,4-Butane Diol (1,4 BDO), i.e ±45% of global BDO production (approximately 1 million tons per year) is converted to THF.

BDO is today commonly derived from downstream products of crude oil but starts to emerge as a feedstock derived sustainable building block that will soon be available in commercial quantities at competitive prices (refer to articles published on this blog on Feb 9,2014 and Feb 12,2014).

Therefore bio-based THF is a reality and its availability on a global commercial scale stands just a few years away

On another front, furoic acid is a precursor for furan-2,5-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) one of the two components of polyethylene furanoate (PEF), an alternate to PET and bio-PET for soft drink bottles, offering enhanced functionalities for the huge potential gaseous liquid packaging application (refer to article published on this blog on Dec 17,2013).

By and large, it sounds like the Furfural family, rooted back into the 19th century, sees a new green generation getting on board for the 21th century with good expectations to have stars and blockbusters amongst the environmentally friendly youngsters.

If you feel a passion for the Furfural Family saga, I recommend you visit Dalin Yebo’s web site using this link


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