(426a) Design and Optimization of a Process for the Production of 5- Hydroxymethylfurfural From Biomass

Torres, A. - Presenter, U.. Minnesota

Biomass is an abundant renewable source that represents a promising alternative for the production of fuels and chemicals currently produced from fossil hydrocarbon feedstocks. In this context, the concept of biorefinery has emerged as the biomass based parallel of the traditional petroleum refinery. However, the chemical composition of biomass feedstocks largely differs from the chemical composition of oil making the processes already developed for petroleum refineries unsuitable for bio-refineries.

Considerable research effort has been devoted to develop laboratory scale reaction-separation strategies for the production of chemicals from bio-sources, but the identification of the best processing routes requires a systems engineering approach and studies in this direction are still scarce.

This work focuses on the design and optimization of processes for the production of 5-Hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF), a promising sugar-derived molecule that can be used as a raw material in the production of furan based polymers such as PET and PBT. We develop and evaluate a continuous process for the production of HMF from fructose based on the acid catalyzed aqueous phase dehydration of the sugar and the continuous extraction of the HMF product into an organic solvent. The process is based on the concept proposed by Dumesic and coworkers (Science, 2006), and

consists of a biphasic reactor in which the HMF produced in the aqueous phase is selectively extracted by the organic phase; a liquid-liquid extractor is used to recover the fraction of HMF remaining in the aqueous phase, and an evaporator concentrates the HMF produced. We address the effect of the design variables on selectivity, conversion, and energy efficiency and finally, formulate an optimization problem in order to find the operating conditions that minimize the cost of production of HMF.