DOE to award up to $125.5M for solar technology research
Electrochemical energy storage startup SPARKZ licenses ORNL cobalt-free battery tech

AVA Biochem enters JDA with Michelin Group for production of 5-HMF

With the common goal to further implement 5-HMF in various materials and chemical applications, AVA Biochem AG in Zug, Switzerland has entered into a Joint Development Agreement with the Michelin Group.

AVA Biochem developed, patented and piloted a novel hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process for the conversion of industrial sugars into the 100% bio-based molecule 5-HMF. (Earlier post.) 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF, CAS 67-47-0) is the link between biomass and furan-based chemicals. With its various functional groups and associated reaction sites, 5-HMF opens the door to a wide range of chemical modifications, making it a versatile, renewable building block.

AVA Biochem Process Diagram

AVA Biochem’s modified hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) process. Krawielitzki et al.

The HTC process uses heat and pressure to turn wet biomass into biocoal. Biomass is first hydrolyzed, then dehydrated; 5-HMF is formed as an intermediate. With the extraction and purification steps following the HTC process, 5-HMF is available in up to 99.9 % purity.

This platform chemical is ideally positioned to replace petroleum-sourced chemicals in various mass-market applications, due to its versatility, non-toxicity and bio-sourcing.

Applications include biopolymers (such as yarns, films, bottles and other packaging) as well as resins and adhesives, where 5-HMF replaces highly toxic formaldehyde. 5-HMF can also be converted into fuels. (Earlier post.)

The collaboration aims to establish the world’s first commercial-scale production plant of 5-HMF, and ultimately to bring novel product applications onto the market based on this versatile chemical. These applications are all targeted to improve the performance, economics, sustainability (low carbon footprint) and safety (non-toxicity) of a variety of both consumer goods and industrial products.

This collaboration demonstrates the ability of AVA Biochem to master their new process. We will contribute to its know-how in the industrialization and evaluation of the performance of these products in different applications. This collaboration also illustrates Michelin’s growing interest in “green chemistry”, in line with our sustainable development strategy and our vision of tomorrow’s mobility.

—Christophe Rahier, Michelin Senior vice president, Strategy and new businesses High Tech Materials


  • Krawielitzki, S., & Kläusli, T. M. (2015). “Modified Hydrothermal Carbonization Process for Producing Biobased 5-HMF Platform Chemical.” Industrial Biotechnology, 11(1), 6–8. doi: 10.1089/ind.2014.1543


The comments to this entry are closed.