Furfural, a chemical with $450M worldwide market worth, is a renewable, non-petroleum based chemical used for making resins, lubricants, and as precursor for tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (a green industry solvent).
Furfural can be produced in the laboratory by acid catalyzed hydrolysis and dehydration of hemicellulose but this conventional method is not effective in energy consumption, cost and yield. Over the past couple of years, different approaches (by solvent and enzymes) have been described in production of high value chemicals and fuel from the renewable biomass resources.
One of the new platforms available in the market now TRIVERSA PROCESSTM , is introduced by GlucanBio Biorenewables LLC (GlucanBio) located in St. Louis, Missouri USA. This technology delivers cost –disruptive advanced material and biochemicals.
The technology emphasizes on “no separation, no clean –up and no enzyme required”. It uses solvent, gamma-valeroactone (GVL) that enables the fractionations process of biomass 100 times faster than conventional method, separating the cellulose and the hemicelloluse into two streams which later can be converted into furfural and its co-products such as lignin. The technology can deliver furfural at 35% lower cost than current technology
To create a more sustainable economy by using biological resources and biomass waste for various industrial application such as biofuels and natural chemicals, SBC and GlucanBio collaborates to screen biomass wastes from Sarawak which included oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB), Nipah palm, sago pith, and wood chips.
The best yield of furfural is obtained from EFB. In Sarawak, much of the biomass wastes especially from oil palm industries are still underutilised. Therefore, the collaborative research with GlucanBio will develop a platform which will enhance economic growth for the state through better utilization of biomass and better management of environmental wastes.