Conversion of fructose to HMF in a continuous fixed bed reactor with outstanding selectivity
5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a very promising component for bio-based plastics. Efficient synthesis of HMF from biomass is still challenging because of fast degradation of HMF to by-products under formation conditions. Therefore, different studies, conducted mainly in monophasic and biphasic batch systems with and without water addition have been published and are still under investigation. However, to produce HMF at a large scale, a continuous process is preferable. Until now, only a few studies have been published in this context. In this work, it is shown that fluorous alcohol hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) can act as superior reaction solvent for HMF synthesis from fructose in a fixed bed reactor. Very high yields of 76% HMF can be achieved in this system under optimized conditions, whilst the catalyst is very stable over several days. Such high yields are only described elsewhere with high boiling reaction solvents like dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO), whereas HFIP with a boiling point of 58° C is very easy to separate from HMF.