Application of continuous flow and alternative energy devices for 5-hydroxymethylfurfural production


Dehydration of fructose and glucose in dipolar, aprotic solvents leads to formation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural. Conditions for continuous flow reactions using a cartridge-based reactor system and a stop-flow microwave reactor were established showing very good product yields and selectivity without the limitation of a batch process such as upscaling and precise temperature monitoring and control. A maximum product HPLC yield of 90.3% under cartridge-based heating and 85.6% under microwave heating could be achieved using mild and quick reaction conditions. Formation of levulinic acid as a by-product could not be detected under the optimized reaction conditions.

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High performance liquid chromatography


Ionic liquid


Microwave (conditions)


N-heterocyclic carbene


Photodiode array


Refractive index


Trifluoroacetic acid


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Correspondence to Marko D. Mihovilovic.

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Schön, M., Schnürch, M. & Mihovilovic, M.D. Application of continuous flow and alternative energy devices for 5-hydroxymethylfurfural production. Mol Divers 15, 639–643 (2011).

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  • Flow chemistry
  • Carbohydrate dehydration
  • 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural
  • Cartridge-based reactors
  • Stopped-flow microwave