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Aiming for a small slice of the ±50million tpa (polyester) market.

Polyester is a synthetic polymer made of purified terephthalic acid (PTA). Furan-2,5-dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) has been suggested as an important renewable building block because it can substitute for terephthalic acid (PTA) in the production of polyesters [1]. The synthesis of furfural to FDCA is a two step reaction, via furoic acid [2]. It is very old chemistry that goes back to 1930s. Most recently commercial developments of FDCA is based on 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) as precursor.

Growth: 2014 to 2020 forecast for FDCA is in the order of a CAGR of 367.0% [3 4]

Market reports[4] forecast FDCA consumption by 2020 to be close to 500,000 tpa and that its market share should be in the following segments:

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Grandview Research (Industry Analysis: FDCA-Industry)

Although there are uses for FDCA in market sectors such as PET, polyamides, polycarbonates, plasticisers and polyester polyols, the production of PET from FDCA is expected to have highest potential by 2020. This market segment is forecast to account for over 60% of global FDCA consumption.

 

Market:

By 2020, the FDCA Market volume is expected to reach about 500,000 tpa. [4]

 

 

Why FDCA from Furfural?

The current (semi-)commercial production of FDCA is made via 5-HMF, which is an unstable molecule and requires expensive catalysts for its synthesis. In addition, its commercial viability depends on large-scale production and is reliant on the food industry to supply sugars and/or starches.

Furfural is made on small-scale production units (biorefineries) that are close to the biomass suppliers or attached to a sugar mill (or pulp mill).

Furfural production does not interfere with food-production.

Furfural production contributes to food-security, as its beneficiaries are the farmers, whose crop "wastes" are used to generate additional revenue for them.

Furfural biorefineries have a high socio-economic impact: They require low capital investments and are suitable to be owned and operated by small enterprises or co-operatives and therefore have a direct impact on their local economies (inc. creation of green, rural jobs).

 

Editor's note: The Furfural-to-FDCA research goes back to the early 20th century. Since the 1970s, new catalysts, new process technology, etc. have been developed in the hydrocarbon-based chemical industry, which could also be applied in the bio-renewable chemicals space. The background IP for Furfural-to-FDCA is freely available and given the low-cost/energy efficient furfural production that is commercially available from International Furan Technology, there should be no reason to meet the targeted US$1,000 per tonne of FDCA. 

Also See:

image   Furfural as feedstock for PET alternatives (December 2013)

image   Important chemicals for the production of biomass-based monomers (Nov 2013)

image Renewable platform chemical and building block (October 2013)

image   Bioplastics: 500% growth = 500% more green chemicals (September 2013)

image   Furoic acid, is the oldest know furan derivative

image   Moving the field of furfural and its by-products into the limelight it deserves

References:

[1] Wikipedia: 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid

[2] Map to Furfural By-products

[3] Bioplastics News: Great Future of Furanics Chemistry

[4] Grandview Market Research: Industry-analysis: FDCA-Industry

[5] B. Kamm, M. Kamm. M. Schmidt, T. Hirth and M. Schulze, Biorefineries – Industrial Processes and Products, ed. B. Kamm, P.R. Gruber and M. Kamm, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany, 2006, vol. 2, ch. 3, pp. 97-149.

  • Furfural
  • Furoic Acid
  • Bioplastics
  • FDCA
  • Furfural and its many Byproducts
  • Polyols
  • PET
  • Polyesters
  • Plasticisers
  • Polycarbonates
  • Polyamides...

Source:  http://www.dalinyebo.com/item/1212-polyester-from-furfural

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Furfuryl Alcohol's Role in the Space Shuttle Development

The 1958 US Space Act stipulated that NASA's research and advancements should benefit all people. As a result, many items we now use daily are a direct result of space technology innovation (e.g. scratch-resistant lenses,  cord-less tools, satellite communication, etc.). It also resulted in a vast array of chemical innovations. DalinYebo's mentor, Dr. Karl Joachim Zeitsch, was part of the team that developed the hypergolic fuel chemistry for the RD4 thrusters  used for the navigation of the Apollo Command Module and the Lunar Lander. Karl was also involved in the heat-shield development and its testing.

Furfuryl Alcohol and the Space Shuttle

Furfuryl Alcohol ("FA") was used in the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) composite materials, which was developed to protect the shuttle around its nose and wing leading edge, where extremely high temperatures (>1,260°C) were encountered during the shuttles re-entry into the atmosphere.

Through pyrolysis, and after the graphite fabric has been rough trimmed, the polymer resin is converted into carbon which is then impregnated with furfuryl alcohol. The density of this material is increased by further pyrolysis, which also leads to improved mechanical properties[1].

An Industrial Renaissance

In our "New Agricultural Economy" article, we made reference to the furfural knowledge that has been developed in Durban (South Africa) since the 1970s. Besides the generation that has retired, there is also a generation of scientists and engineers that have left the industry, as a result of the limited opportunities or a lack of research funding (see "Drop-in Pothole Repairs"). However, these professionals are still available to share their knowhow.

One of the unique properties of furfural alcohol is its use to create really long-chain polymers ..

.. on its own or with other compounds. This chemistry was well researched already in the last century ( .. and almost forgotten), but very little of it is used commercially today. Conceptually similar to the process used by the NASA engineers, FA is used to penetrate cell structure of natural materials:

 FA is used to impregnate the cells of wood, where is polymerised and bonded with the wood. The treated wood has improved moisture-dimensional stability, hardness, and decay and insect resistance (see dalinyebo.com/tag/Kebony).

 In a similar way, new natural co-polymers are created that find its commercial use in structural panels for the aviation or automotive industries (see dalinyebo.com/bioresins-for-fiber-reinforced-bioplastics)

Today, the bulk of the FA is used for the manufacture of furan resins, mainly used in the foundry industry (also suitable for 3D printing).

 Furan resins have excellent chemical, solvent, and temperature resistance. Their use is limited, as furan coatings are brittle, show poor adhesion to nonporous surfaces (such as steel), and show high shrinkage on curing. However, there is unexploited research that shows how a copolymer can over-come some of these limitations.

Reference

[1] Space Shuttle and Furfuryl Alcohol and Materials Used in Space Shuttle Thermal Protection Systems

  • Furfuryl Alcohol
  • Bioplastics
  • Poly(Furfuryl Alcohol)...

Source:  http://www.dalinyebo.com/item/1211-unique-properties-of-furfuryl-alcohol

image
Furfuryl Alcohol's Role in the Space Shuttle Development

The 1958 US Space Act stipulated that NASA's research and advancements should benefit all people. As a result, many items we now use daily are a direct result of space technology innovation (e.g. scratch-resistant lenses,  cord-less tools, satellite communication, etc.). It also resulted in a vast array of chemical innovations. DalinYebo's mentor, Dr. Karl Joachim Zeitsch, was part of the team that developed the hypergolic fuel chemistry for the RD4 thrusters  used for the navigation of the Apollo Command Module and the Lunar Lander. Karl was also involved in the heat-shield development and its testing.

Furfuryl Alcohol and the Space Shuttle

Furfuryl Alcohol ("FA") was used in the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon (RCC) composite materials, which was developed to protect the shuttle around its nose and wing leading edge, where extremely high temperatures (>1,260°C) were encountered during the shuttles re-entry into the atmosphere.

Through pyrolysis, and after the graphite fabric has been rough trimmed, the polymer resin is converted into carbon which is then impregnated with furfuryl alcohol. The density of this material is increased by further pyrolysis, which also leads to improved mechanical properties[1].

An Industrial Renaissance

In our "New Agricultural Economy" article, we made reference to the furfural knowledge that has been developed in Durban (South Africa) since the 1970s. Besides the generation that has retired, there is also a generation of scientists and engineers that have left the industry, as a result of the limited opportunities or a lack of research funding (see "Drop-in Pothole Repairs"). However, these professionals are still available to share their knowhow.

One of the unique properties of furfural alcohol is its use to create really long-chain polymers ..

.. on its own or with other compounds. This chemistry was well researched already in the last century ( .. and almost forgotten), but very little of it is used commercially today. Conceptually similar to the process used by the NASA engineers, FA is used to penetrate cell structure of natural materials:

 FA is used to impregnate the cells of wood, where is polymerised and bonded with the wood. The treated wood has improved moisture-dimensional stability, hardness, and decay and insect resistance (see dalinyebo.com/tag/Kebony).

 In a similar way, new natural co-polymers are created that find its commercial use in structural panels for the aviation or automotive industries (see dalinyebo.com/bioresins-for-fiber-reinforced-bioplastics)

Today, the bulk of the FA is used for the manufacture of furan resins, mainly used in the foundry industry (also suitable for 3D printing).

 Furan resins have excellent chemical, solvent, and temperature resistance. Their use is limited, as furan coatings are brittle, show poor adhesion to nonporous surfaces (such as steel), and show high shrinkage on curing. However, there is unexploited research that shows how a copolymer can over-come some of these limitations.

Reference

[1] Space Shuttle and Furfuryl Alcohol and Materials Used in Space Shuttle Thermal Protection Systems

  • Furfuryl Alcohol
  • Bioplastics
  • Poly(Furfuryl Alcohol)...

Source:  http://dalinyebo.com/item/1211-unique-properties-of-furfuryl-alcohol

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 Furfural is behind an environmentally-friendly alternative with similar properties to tropical hardwood.

Kebony’s unique alternative to wood: Kebony, a Norwegian company,  specialises in impregnated pine and maple wood (with furfuryl alcohol), suitable for use in both indoor and outdoor projects. By presenting its product as a sustainable alternative to tropical hardwood, Kebony hopes to expand its consumer base as it forages into the USA. Established in 1997 and launched in the USA in 2010, it is a relatively new addition to the flooring community, but Kebony is taking strides to stand out thanks to its modification process and international expansion (www.fcw1.com).

 It is hoped this new, sustainable material could provide an alternative not only to tropical hardwood, but also to other building materials such as plastic, metal and concrete.

euronews Knowledge

23 October 2014: Kebony invests Euro 8 million for international expansion The demand for Kebony’s wood has steadily increased over recent years and the company has seen average growth of 30% p.a. in the last five years as it has expanded to meet the increasing need for high performance wood whilst protecting tropical forests. Conservation is not just a passing consumer trend, it is now mandated by law – the EU timber legislation came into effect in March 2013, which bans illegal forestry products from entering the market ...  (www.lesprom.com).

Also see:

Other articles related to Kebony on dalinyebo.com

Furfural and the Rainforest

Beautiful Wood Architecture

New Green Materials

  • Furfural
  • Furfuryl Alcohol
  • Wood
  • Kebony...

Source:  http://www.dalinyebo.com/item/1210-green-wood-alternative-to-tropical-hardwood

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Rapid all-weather repair systems for bomb-damaged runways, potholes, etc.

Furfuryl alcohol based polymer systems were successfully used in all-weather conditions during (the Vietnam and other) wars to repair bomb-damaged runways, quickly [1]. The resulting compressive strength and durability is equal to that of the original surface.

 This system has been adopted to South African conditions [2] and the field tests demonstrated that biobased chemicals, in this case sugarcane bagasse derived furfuryl alcohol, compete well (or better) against crude-oil derived epoxy resins. The following features  were reported

The formulatuion selected for use in South Africa polymerised within 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, a compressive strength of 20 MPa is attained.

 It proved stable under adverse chemical conditions and was able to withstand elevated temperatures of up to 200°C

 Tests on road pothole rehabilitation slabs showed that polymer concrete can resist high stresses successfully under repeated loads.

It can be installed in less than 30 minutes in order to minimise traffic hold-ups and reduces labour hours spent on repairs.

It can be used in wet weather conditions (no work stoppage, due to rain).

image Also suitable for remote roads: Rapid & tough repair solutions for potholes, based on proven systems for bomb-damage runway repairs

References

[1] See below: Water-Compatible Polymer Concrete Materials For Use In Rapid Repair Systems For Airport Runways, T. Sugama, L.E. Kukacka and W. Horn

[2] See below: Development of Furfuryl Alcohol Concrete For South African Applications, D. Kruger, Rand Afrikaans University

Downloads

 Rapid Repair System For Airport Runways
 Development of Furfuryl Alcohol Concrete For South African Applications

Editor's note: The above developments go back to the 1970s and 80s. The South African project was not commercialised, mainly due to a lack of resources/industry interest. However, the global focus on using green chemicals as well as the increased labour costs for sending a crew out to remote locations to effect road repairs, provide in our view a new opportunity to re-evaluate the use of biomass derived chemicals for such applications.

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