HMF is an organic compound derived from plant-based sugars (i.e. glucose & fructose). As a platform chemical, it can be processed into various biochemicals that are currently still derived from fossil fuels. HMF is highly water soluble and can be processed into diesel-like liquid biofuels ("furanic biofuels"). These are in some ways superior to ethanol. For example, compared to ethanol, 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) has a higher energy density, has a higher boiling point (by 20 °C), and is not soluble in water. DMF is similar to gasoline and is compatible with the existing liquid transportation fuel infrastructure, having already been used as a gasoline additive.
Here is a study from the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Rostock, Germany: Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) Biomass-Derived Platform Chemicals: Thermodynamic Studies on the Conversion of 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural into Bulk Intermediates
An a article in Technology Review (link here) reports on research about a new catalyst (chromium chloride) that can get the most HMF from glucose and works at temperatures of 80 °C for fructose and 100 °C for glucose.
- Wikipedia: 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural
- Article in Technology Review: Plastics from Sugar - New catalysts convert glucose into a valuable chemical feedstock.