AVA Biochem is searching for partners to build large-scale production plants for renewable platform chemical 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF). In February, AVA Biochem began commercial-scale production of 5-HMF from biomass at its Biochem-1 facility using a modified version of a hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process developed by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). 5-HMF is a platform chemical that can serve as a precursor for various fuels and plastics. (Earlier post.)
5-HMF is an organic compound derived from dehydration of certain sugars (hexoses). The molecule consists of a furan ring, containing both aldehyde and alcohol functional groups. 5-HMF can be obtained from vegetable biomass; according to the US Department of Energy, 5-HMF is one of the ten most important platform chemicals. It is, however, a challenge to manufacture the compound on an industrial scale.
KIT’s hydrothermal carbonization process, also described as “aqueous carbonization”, uses temperatures of 220 °Celsius and pressure levels of 22 bar to dehydrate the carbohydrates. In other words, says AVA Biochem, the process leads to a “dewatering” which needs less energy compared to conventional thermal drying.
AVA Biochem’s plant currently has a capacity of 20 tonnes per year and bulk 5- HMF is within reach, due to the company’s highly-scalable modified hydrothermal carbonization process.
AVA Biochem is already selling 5-HMF commercially, including to Fortune 500 companies.