Table of Content

Open AccessOpen Access


Differential Catalysis of Depolymerisation and Dehydration Reactions: Producing Furfural from Plant Biomass

Nikolajs Vedernikovs*

Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry, Riga, LV-1006, Latvia

* Corresponding Author: Nikolajs Vedernikovs. Email:

(This article belongs to this Special Issue: The 10th Conference on Green Chemistry and Nanotechnologies in Polymeric Materials (GCNPM 2019))

Journal of Renewable Materials 2020, 8(6), 661-674.


The main principles of the technological realisation of the furfural obtaining process have been formulated by Ricard [1]. Based on his recommendations, all investigators proceeded from the assumption that the depolymerisation of pentosans and the dehydration of pentoses in the one-step production of furfural from raw plant material must be accelerated with diluted catalyst solutions. According to this theory, uniform impregnation of the raw material with a catalyst solution is considered necessary. The reduction in the amount of the catalyst solution down to 30–40% of the mass of the dry raw material, suggested by Miner et al. [2], made the process of furfural production profitable and it prompted industrial production. Their technology is being successfully using also now at more than 140 furfural plants in China, where the furfural yield is only 45% of the theoretical yield and 50% of the cellulose in the lignocellulosic residue is destroyed during the process of obtaining furfural. Therefore, the residue of the raw material after furfural production may only be used as fuel or fertiliser. A simultaneous solution to these two problems has not been possible without changing the chemical mechanism of the depolymerisation and dehydration reactions during the furfural formation process. Using birch wood as a raw material, we simultaneously addressed these two problems using the following two catalysts: acetic acid for the depolymerisation of pentosans and concentrated sulfuric acid for the dehydration of pentoses, producing furfural. As a result, the furfural yield increased and the new furfural production technologies from hardwood and other raw plant materials were realised at 10 plants in 3 countries. A licence was sold, and contracts with companies in Slovenia, Hungary and Russia were successfully performed.


Cite This Article

Vedernikovs, N. (2020). Differential Catalysis of Depolymerisation and Dehydration Reactions: Producing Furfural from Plant Biomass. Journal of Renewable Materials, 8(6), 661–674.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • 3159


  • 1842


  • 0


Share Link