It may be a challenge to imagine corncobs powering rockets and it may be even more difficult to believe: This happened already in the 1940s!

Corncobs used to be the feedstock of preference to make furfural in the USA and France. Furfural is the platform chemical from which furfuryl alcohol (FA) is made. Furaline, a mixture of FA (41%), methanol (18%), and xylidine (dimethyl aniline; 41%) is a rocket fuel. The system is "hypergolic": When the furaline comes into contact with the nitric acid, it ignites by itself without external aid[1]. In the early 1940s, the German rocket designers used a hypergolic system of FA ("Fantol") and nitric acid to ignite their gasoline propelled Enzian and Schmetterling missiles[2].

image In 1947, the first furaline liquid propellant rocket engine (LPRE) was unveiled for an anti-aircraft missile[3]. Already in 1952 the first manned flight with a furaline rocket-boosted aircraft took place in France[4]. On the 9 September 1954, the first rocket propelled flight of the SO-9000 Trident was undertaken by SANSCO (now part of EADS) . The Trident was a prototype interceptor and could achieve a top speed of Mach 1.63. After completion of the test programme, the aircraft was retired to the Musée de l'air et de l'espace at Le Bourget Airport (Paris, France) . Trident development program was replaced by the development of the Mirage III, which used a different LPRE fuel. Furaline continued to fuel Russian, American and French missiles and rockets.

In 2013, FA continues to be part of hypergolic rocket propulsion systems[5] or rocketry[6].

Furaline was used by: - VERONIQUE rocket (France) - EMERAUDE rocket (France) - CORPORAL rockets (USA)

" ... it is only a lack of research which prevents furfural and its derivatives from flooding the world in a stunning variety of different applications.


[1] The chemistry and technology of furfural and its many by-products, Dr. Karl Joachim Zeitsch

[2] and

[3] Goolge Books: History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines, George Paul Sutton

[4] Google Books: Rocketing Into the Future: The History and Technology of Rocket Planes, Michel van Pelt

[5] 3-Nov-2013, :

[6] 3-Nov-2013, Spectra: and

  • Furfural
  • furaline
  • fuel
  • Biofuels
  • Rocketfuels
  • Jetfuels...
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Its about kinetics and the control valve.

image In our "Applied Knowhow" article, we describe the background and outline why we offer the most economical and fit-for-purpose biomass-processing technologies to make furfural.

Specifically, we provide



Which includes

Access to Market

With our CLIENTS, we share our understanding of ...

... the furfural market (Not import statistics, but who is buying, where and who from).

... how the furfural market price is determined.

... market trends (downstream uses: traditional and new).

  • knowhow
  • markets
  • Technology
  • Furfural...
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A complimentary alternative to the current gatekeepers

We have come a long way (13 years), since our mentor, Dr. K.J. Zeitsch, in the epilogue to his book stated:

.. the furfural industry has been traditionally secretive to the point of appearing shrouded in clouds of mystery .. clandestineness .. totally erroneous information. The surreptitious atmosphere has not been conducive to progress as evidenced by the fact that the very first industrial furfural process, launched 90 years ago with old equipment of a defunct cereal plant, is still used today although its yield is poor, without necessarily being so. ..

From the outside, perhaps not much has changed?

The Main Players May Still Know Each Other Reasonably Well, but ..

The furfural market is still a 'business to business' (B2B) trade where all the main players know each other reasonably well. However, it has seen growth and as a result we also see more effort in the development of furfural-downstream application[1], which will continue to grow the demand for furfural. These trends are further stimulated by the demand for "green chemicals & plastics".

Because these 'gatekeepers' have succeeded in keeping the market to themselves, i.e. very little information is made public, outsiders, especially large-scale agro-industries (e.g. Brazilian sugar industry or US cellulosic developers), struggle to understand or just don't see the attraction of the furfural business.

The markets are growing and there is room for additional production, especially outside China: There is a current market gap of ±30,000 tpa.

There Is An Absence Of (New) Technology?

Other than the work DalinYebo has undertaken over the last 12-years, no new technology has been commercialised. On the one-hand we believe that this has mainly got to do with the relatively small market size, which is not attractive for technology vendors. On the other-hand, we know that this 1920s process is fundamentally still the best technology to produce furfural. Our improvements make it more energy efficient, produce less waste water, especially if integrated with e.g. a sugar mill. Furfural production is "Not Rocket Science"!

Lack Of Understanding The Chinese Furfural Business

There is in particular a lack of or a stereotype understanding of the Chinese furfural business[3]. In our opinion, the cost of furfural production in China has not only exceeded the manufacturing costs that caused the loss of ±100,000 tpa of furfural production in the USA and (former) USSR in the 1990s. Now the Chinese furfural producers are actually facing similar challenges, as the industry did in the 1990s e.g. in the USA. In addition, weather conditions or alternate uses of their feedstock cause huge swings in the furfural prices, which jeopardise the use of furfural as a chemical building block of first choice for a variety of applications and in many different industries.

The Master Key

DalinYebo has developed the 'master key' in that we are not only able to assist with technology[4], but in that we have a thorough understanding of the furfural business and, in addition, maintain good relationships with all the major furfural 'players'. Our independence seems to attract regular interest from corporations that wish to discuss and/or seek to purchase (large) volume of furfural in their quest to roll-out bio-renewable chemicals or applications based on furfural. Therefore, besides the immediate market gap, there is a growing demand that needs new (preferably large scale) furfural production. DalinYebo offers our assistance and services to organisations who own biomass feedstock or investors who wish to join this renaissance of manufacturing a bio-renewable chemical that was first commercially produced in 1922. It's a sleeping beauty that needs to be woken-up.


[1] See "Sustainable Strategies" download as well as "Map to Furfural and its many By-products" .  

[2] Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass (p.12 ) .

[3] For our clients, we provided more insights on "How The Furfural Pricing Works In China" .

[4] Beyond Technology: Viable and practical solution for a Furfural Business .

  • Furfural and its many Byproducts
  • Technology
  • Furfural Markets
  • Furfural...
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What has the furfural price got in common with the bird flu?

The Chinese poultry industry is a major consumer of maize (corn) and reports on that industry provide an insight on the Chinese maize production[1], which is the sole source of the feedstock of that country's furfural production.

In August 2013, there were heavy floods in one of the major production territories. Although the total impact of this years floods[2] have not been fully understood, we know that some furfural companies have lost their stockpiles and others will struggle to procure sufficient cobs for the 2013/14 production.

The operating rate of furfural companies in China decreased sharply from 30 June to 20 July this year, due to the heavy rain in this period [1].

Previously there had been droughts, now these floods will cause a furfural shortage and a spike in the furfural prices. At the beginning of 4Q13, we have already observed a US$200/t increase since 2Q13. In the absence of any significant new furfural production outside China, domestic Chinese issues will therefore continue to 'rule the roost' of the global furfural industry.

For our clients, we updated our article on how the pricing of furfural works in China. For owners of biomass we offer technology and market access, creating investment opportunities in the cleantech space.


[1] See attachment "Chinese Corn Market - Aug 2013"

[2] See attachment "Chinese Floods - Aug 2013"

  • corn
  • Corncobs
  • Furfural Markets
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Renewable platform chemical and building block

 Also know as furan-2-carboxaldehyde, fural, furfuraldehyde, 2-furaldehyde, pyromucic aldehyde or furfural:

Molecular formula: C5H4O2

Molar mass: 96.08 g mol−1

Furfural is one of the oldest biorenewable chemicals (discovered in 1821 and commercial production started in 1922). It is an industrial chemical and a precursor for a variety of (polymer) chemistry and solvents.

Furfural has been identified as one of the Top 30 Biorenewable Chemicals[1].


Mapping-out Sustainable Strategies

Between the 1920s and 1950s, many pathways to a variety of furfural derivatives[2] were well researched, recorded and (almost) forgotten. The hydrocarbon revolution of the 1940s/50s produced many cheaper alternatives (E.g. Nylon was going to be made from furfural). Over the last 90 years, only a few chemicals have been continuously made from furfural.

However, over the last five years, we have seen a growing demand for furfural and the market is growing. DalinYebo has identified a current supply gap and future growth opportunities[3].

Old technology is available and can easily be adapted to modern production practices. Furfural production is not 'rocket science', but was in need of modernisation. The technology that DalinYebo offers is is therefore an engineering renaissance and strives to provide viable and practical solutions.

DalinYebo makes its knowledge base[3] available in order to study and or implement furfural biorefinery projects and/or to rehabilitate old plants.


[1] Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass (p.12 )

[2] See downloads as well as "Map to Furfural and its many By-products"

[3] Masterkey: Unlocking the Potential for Furfural

  • Furfural
  • Furfural and its many Byproducts
  • Biorenewable Chemicals...
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