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A microreactor makes HMF from just sugar and water

By Edited by Gerald Ondrey |

Hajime Kawanami and colleagues at the AIST Tohoku Collaboration Center, Research Center for Compact Chemical Process, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; Sendai, Japan; www.aist.go.jp) have developed a continuous, one-step process for synthesizing hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a biologically active substance with promising therapeutic properties against metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and diabetes. The process uses inexpensive sugars, such as glucose or fructose, and water as starting materials — no organic solvents or other additives. The key to the process is a microreactor that can operate from ambient conditions up to 600°C and 300 MPa. The system has a reaction volume of 0.01–0.5 mL and a continuous production capacity (calculated) of 500 kg/yr. In this reactor, high-pressure (10 MPa) water and an aqueous solution of sugars are first instantaneously mixed, then the temperature rapidly (within 10 ms) increased to 400°C. After a residence time of 10 s, the mixture is rapidly (within 10 ms) cooled to 25°C. The system continuously produces HMF with 70% yield and purity of greater than 80%. In contrast, alternative methods to make HMF from glucose require two or more…
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