Great Lakes Bioenergy research featured in Green Chemistry

An illustration depicting the conversion of fructose into plastics, fuels, and dyes
The illustration featured on the back cover of Green Chemistry depicting the conversion of biomass-derived fructose into organic dyes, polymers, and liquid fuels.
Chelsea Mamott

A new process developed by researchers at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center enables the production of a new platform chemical—a building block which can be converted to a variety of higher value products—from biomass-derived fructose. This versatile chemical, HAH, opens new pathways for utilizing a sustainable resource in various high-value chemicals markets and could supply organic dyes, polymers, and liquid fuels from renewable sources in the future.

The collaborative research study, “Catalytic strategy for conversion of fructose to organic dyes, polymers, and liquid fuels,” is showcased on the back cover of the Green Chemistry journal. Congratulations to the authors!

Corresponding author
James A. Dumesic | jdumesic@wisc.edu


Catalytic strategy for conversion of fructose to organic dyes, polymers, and liquid fuels

Authors: Hochan Chang, Ishan Bajaj, George W. Huber, Christos T. Maravelias, and James A. Dumesic

Published: June 2020, Green Chemistry

DOI: 10.1039/D0GC01576H

Abstract: We report a process to produce a versatile platform chemical from biomass-derived fructose for organic dye, polymer, and liquid fuel industries. An aldol-condensed chemical (HAH) is synthesized as a platform chemical from fructose by catalytic reactions in acetone/water solvent with non-noble metal catalysts (e.g., HCl, NaOH). Then, selective reactions (e.g., etherification, reduction, dimerization) of the functional groups, such as enone and hydroxyl groups, in the HAH molecule enable applications in organic dyes and polyether precursors. High yields of target products, such as 5-(hydroxymethyl) furfural (HMF) (85.9% from fructose) and HAH (86.3% from HMF) are achieved by sequential dehydration and aldol-condensation with a simple purification process (>99% HAH purity). The use of non-noble metal catalysts, the high yield of each reaction, and the simple purification of the target product allow for beneficial economics of the process. Techno-economic analysis indicates that the process produces HAH at minimum selling price (MSP) of $1958 per ton. The MSP of HAH product allows the economic viability of applications in organic dye and polyether markets by replacing its counterparts, such as anthraquinone ($3200-$3900 per ton) and bisphenol-A ($1360-$1720 per ton).

Efficient biomass conversion