Production of 5-HMF (5-Hydroxymethylfurfural) from inulin-containing wastes
Chicory roots are an environmental management problem.
Through a hydrothermal synthesis, 5-HMF is produced using waste containing hexoses and monomeric sugars. This technology can establish synergies with biogas production within the biorefinery concept and reduce transport costs for the supply of a decentrally implemented conversion plant.
Sugars are extracted through a counter-current diffusion leaching process using only water (without contaminants such as sulphur, which is usually found in today's HMF). The resulting effluent is purified and then undergoes catalysed acid conversion. The main by-products are leached root chips, CaCO3 sludge (peptides, anions, degraded proteins, colloids) that can be used as fertiliser and process water containing low molecular weight compounds that can be used in biogas production. During the conversion of biogas to electricity, excess heat is produced which can be used for the extraction and conversion of the sacchar solution. The process can also be applied to wastes from other crops with high inulin content such as Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion or scorzonera.
5-HMF is of particular interest for the production of polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a 100% renewable and sustainable alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for beverage and food packaging. The major benefits are lower material usage (in terms of weight) while maintaining quality and stability criteria and reducing transport costs.
Market deployment considerations
Lower conversion ratio compared to using a two-phase leaching agent