Furfural: What is it?

Over 90% of global furfural production is made from corncobs or bagasse Over 90% of global furfural production is made from corncobs or bagasse (Picture: DalinYebo)

Furfural (fûr'fərəl) or furfuraldehyde (fûr'fərăl'dəhīd) is an industrial chemical derived from a variety of agricultural byproducts.

Over 90% of the global furfural production is made from corncobs or bagasse. Other lignocellulosic biomass include oat hulls, olive residues, wheat bran, sunflower husks, rice hulls, certain hardwood or components of pulp mill liquors. The name furfural comes from the Latin word furfur, meaning bran. Furfural is a viscous, colorless liquid that has a pleasant aromatic odor; upon exposure to air it turns dark brown or black. It boils at 162°C; it is soluble in ethanol and ether and somewhat soluble in water. It is one of the strongest solvents and has a flash point of 60°C. It?s risk profile is similar to dieseline/kerosene and is not dangerous to handle.

What is it used for?

Furfural ("FF") is an intermediate chemical used in the refining of lubricant oils and rosins.  It is also used as herbicides, fungicides, soil fumigants, and as a building block in the production of Lycra® (PolyTHF).

Furfural, as well as its derivative furfuryl alcohol ("FA"), can be used either by itself or together with phenol, acetone, or urea to make resins. Such resins are used in the manufacture of casting moulds, fiberglass, some aircraft components, and automotive brake linings.

Besides the conversion into FA, FF is used as an extractive solvent, motor car fuel, wax recovery, lubricant, adhesive.

Derivatives of furfural are Pharmceutical building blocks.

Its by-products are used for flavours:

Diacetyl, 2,3-pentanedione, 5 methyl furfural, 2 furyl methyl ketone
Flavour enhancer for food products (NB: It is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as a food flavoring agent

Furfural and its many By-productsFurfural and its many By-products

Above article is a summary of information found on dalinyebo.com/furfural

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