AVA Biochem produces renewable 5-HMF

By Erin Voegele | February 10, 2014

Switzerland-based AVA Biochem recently announced it has begun production of renewable 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) at its Biochem-1 facility in Muttenz, Switzerland. In its first phase of development, the facility has the capacity to produce up to 20 metric tons of the renewable chemical per year. According to the AVA Biochem, the facility can produce 5-HMF with a purity of 99.9 percent.

Information published by the company indicates 5-HMF is a platform chemical that can be used to manufacture polymers, such as resins and additives. It also specifies resins with HMF can also be used as a substitute for formaldehyde. Furthermore, AVA Biochem said that oxidation of 5-HMF can produce intermediate chemicals, such 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which may be useful as a replacement for terephthalic acid in polyesters. The company also said the chemical can be converted into 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF).

AVA Biochem is a subsidiary of AVA-CO2. Information published by the company indicates that the 5-HMF production process is based on a modified version of AVA-CO2’s hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process. According to AVA-CO2, its HTC process converts biomass in an aqueous suspension into a lignite coal-like product using pressure and temperatures of 180 to 220 degrees Celsius. Information published by AVA-CO2 explains that NTC transforms biomass into these products via an anaerobic chemical process that spits hydroxide anions and hydrogen cations off the organic molecules and releases them as water. The dehydrated organic molecules then combine to form different carbon compounds. The process can also produce biochar.

“AVA Biochem’s breakthrough HTC technology is opening new markets for renewable 5-HMF,” said Jan Vyskocil, CEO of AVA Biochem. “I am convinced that this will push us to the forefront of the biobased chemical industry.”