Plastics from sugar: the end to petrochemicals?

Research Success Story about EnzOx2 (Image:

The EnzOx2 Project is a Research & Innovation Action funded by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking, …

… a Public-Private Partnership between the EU (under H2020 framework programme) and the Bio-based Industries Consortium. Twelve participants from five European countries will join efforts for the sustainable production of chemical building blocks and other added value products from plant biomass using enzymatic technologies.

Europe is determined to positively transform its chemical production by replacing oil based for innovative bio based production methods. Now, with funding from the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking under Horizon 2020, the EnzOx2 (Enzymatic Oxidation/Oxyfunctionalization) project aims to develop technologies to make high performance plastics from plant biomass waste. Twelve participants from five European countries have joined the consortium, including AVA Biochem in Basel

Read this research success story about EnzOx2, which was published in EUResearch, the Swiss guide to European research & innovation:



Plastics from sugar: the end to petrochemicals? was originally published on Bioeconomy Consultants : Innovative Minds





Avocadofurans are new nontoxic insecticides which would be effective against common crop insect pest.


A new synthetic route for the preparation of the insecticidal compound 2-hexadecylfuran is described in this study. The procedure starts from readily available furfuraldehyde and palmitic anhydride via two steps employing the Perkin reaction and resulting in a 25% overall yield. The method can be deemed as a practical and environmentally friendly route to prepare a potentially important class of insecticide.

A practical and environmentally friendly route to prepare a potentially important class of insecticide.

A two-step synthesis of the insect anti-feedant 2-hexadecylfuran (1) was accomplished starting from inexpensive furfuraldehyde (2)19–21 in 25% overall yield. Although the yield is low, the starting materials are inexpensive and are obtained from domestic agricultural sources.

This is how I prefer my avocados!

Avocado is Incredibly Nutritious. ...

They Contain More Potassium Than Bananas. ...

Avocado is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. ...

Avocados Are Loaded With Fiber. ...

Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels.

Fortunately, avocadofuran is synthesised from FURFURAL and so we can continue to enjoy the culinary benefits of avocados.  



The avocadofurans are a family of natural products isolated from avocado (Persia) which consist of 2-alkylfurans with varying degrees and sites of unsaturation (double and triple bonds) in the alkyl chain. It has been demonstrated that compounds structurally related to avocadofurans, saturated 2-alkylfurans with chain length of 14–18 carbon atoms, have inhibitory activity against larval growth of the agricultural insect beet army worm (Spodoptera exigua) and, therefore, such compounds could be useful insecticides in crop protection. 


 A new synthesis route for the preparation of the avocadofuran, 25.09.2016


  • Furfural
  • Insecticides...


Bioenergy crops could store more carbon in soil

Biomass research plots (miscanthus and switchgrass) on SoyFace plots on UI South Farms.

In addition to providing renewable energy, grass crops like switchgrass and miscanthus could store some of the carbon they pull from the atmosphere in the soil.

This is reported in a study by University of Illinois researchers.

Bioenergy crops like miscanthus, pictured here, can store more carbon in its soil than corn or soybean crops.

The study compared soil dynamics – the ratio of carbon to nitrogen and microbial activity – of bioenergy crops with that of a standard corn-corn-soybean rotation. They found that in bioenergy crops, a certain threshold of plant matter left in the field after harvest lets much more carbon accumulate in the soil.


The same is true for Sweet Sorghum, which is THE biomass feedstock we suggest to use for biorefineries in Africa (and elsewhere).


DalinYebo: Bioeconomy Consultants

Technology . Markets . Knowhow



Led by civil and environmental engineering professor Praveen Kumar, the researchers published their findings in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

“Our study finds that significantly higher soil organic carbon accumulation and reduced soil nitrogen loss can be achieved for switchgrass and miscanthus compared to a corn-corn-soybean rotation,” said Kumar, who also is affiliated with the department of atmospheric sciences at the U. of I.

The ratio of carbon to nitrogen, denoted as C/N, is a critical factor for any crop. One reason for that is the myriad bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the soil are sensitive to changes in this ratio. For example, the ability of microorganisms to decompose organic matter depends on the C/N ratio. They use carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein production, Kumar said.

Plants take in carbon from the atmosphere during photosynthesis. When the crops are harvested, the litter left in the fields – stalks, fallen leaves and any leftover plants – is broken down by microbes, becoming part of the soil.

The study found that when the litter is above a certain threshold value – 25 percent of aboveground biomass in switchgrass and 15 percent in miscanthus – the C/N level is so high that the microbes can’t decompose as much, and the accumulation of carbon in the soil is significantly enhanced.

“At the time of harvest, these crops have a very high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, which makes their biomass resistant to microbial decomposition,” said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research. “In the case of switchgrass, a native of North America, results of the study show an accumulation of soil organic carbon over time when more than 25 percent of the biomass is returned to the soil. These perennial grasses are a source of energy, and can be used as a climate mitigation instrument for sequestering carbon in the soil – provided not all the foliage is harvested for energy production.”

Kumar said the reduction in decomposition can also prove to be problematic, though, and nitrogen treatments may be necessary to maintain microorganism populations. In addition, the way these crops use water differs, and has the potential to impact the moisture and runoff rates. All these factors should be considered together, he said, when creating models to study the effects of changing land use from traditional corn and soybeans to bioenergy grasses.

“The loss of microbial biomass in the topsoil, which is the main driver of the threshold effect, is also an undesirable condition because of its important role in regulating plant productivity and biodiversity,” said Dong K. Woo, graduate student and first author of the study. “These issues should be assessed together with the benefits of cultivating switchgrass and miscanthus mentioned above for the extensive land use conversion from the annual row crops to the bioenergy crops.”

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications, the National Science Foundation and the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center supported this work.


  • Octobert 2014,
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | PHYSICAL SCIENCES EDITOR | 217-244-1073

From: Blog.Biomass.Company

Bioenergy crops could store more carbon in soil was originally published on Bioeconomy Consultants : Innovative Minds





Furfural imparts a characteristic variously described as grainy, biscuity, or almond-like.

Nosing whiskey isn’t just an art, but a science [1]

While it’s probably true that many self-proclaimed experts are really hacks who’ve learned a lot of fancy vocabulary, nosing isn’t just an art, but a science.

DalinYebo's insight:

We have previously written [2] about the flavour that furfural gives to wine, cider, coffee, etc. Besides giving flavour to whiskey, the ratio of furfural to 5-HMF can be used to determine whether a whiskey [3] was aged in a cask or not. Oak wood has up to 30% hemicellulose content, which over a period of time contributes to an increasing level of furfural in the whiskey.

Whiskey is very complex chemically, and when we detect certain notes in it, that’s because it contains certain molecules. If a whiskey has pear notes, that’s because it has in it a dash of the same chemical that makes pears smell like pear. Although the range of fragrant compounds that can occur in whiskey is large, some of the more prevalent compounds can be broken down into a few groups:

Esters are a group of compounds mostly created during fermentation when fatty acids and alcohols produced by yeast combine with each other. Interactions between alcohols and fatty acids of different kinds lead to the creation of many different kinds of esters, each of which has a distinct aroma. For the most part, esters, especially short- and medium-chain esters, which are the most abundant, impart fruity notes. Long-chain esters, though, have a wider range, including cheesy and soapy aromas. A sub-group of esters are lactones, one of which is commonly called whiskey lactone. It has a coconut or wood aroma and comes from the oak whiskey is aged in.

Phenols, including phenol, guaiacol, and cresol, impart a range of smoky, rubbery, and medicinal flavours to whiskey. If that sounds like a description of a big Highland scotch, that’s because the major source of phenols is peat smoke. In nature, cresols are also found in human sweat and beaver castor glands!

Aldehydes are the source of a wide range of flavours, including furfural, which imparts a characteristic variously described as grainy, biscuity, or almond-like; and vanillin and cinnamaldehyde, which I’ll let you make your own assumptions about. Some of these compounds are produced during fermentation and distillation, while others are imparted during aging. Researchers have found that the presence of furfural, which, in whiskey, comes from charred oak, can be used to tell a straight whiskey apart from a blended whiskey coloured with caramel. If you’re ever feeling sheepish at a group tasting because you don’t taste the same thing everyone else does, keep this in mind: just as different notes are physically present in whiskey, everyone’s nose is slightly different. Some people, including skilled professional tasters, simply lack receptors for certain compounds. In fact, it’s been suggested that virtually everyone on earth lacks sensitivity to at least one smell. While there is biological variation in nasal acuity between different people, what’s far more important in tasting is practice, repetition, and learning to trust your own senses.


[2] Furfural derivatives in apple cider and wine


[1WHISKEY SCIENCE: THE CHEMISTRY OF SMELL by Katelyn Best - February 17th, 2017

[3Authentication of straight whiskey by determination of the ratio of furfural to 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde [1999]

  • Flavour
  • Furfural
  • Coffee
  • Wine...



Oldest Biorefineries used for Pretreatment of Lignocellulose: The Cows

Levulinic acid is a platform chemical with significant potential to substitute petroleum-based products in the chemical and fuel sectors.

Agricultural waste, cow dung, was used as feedstock for the production of a high value–added chemical levulinic acid (LA) in dilute acid aqueous solutions.

Researchers from “Agro-Environmental Protection Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences” developed a promising strategy for the value-increment utilization of cow dung.

A high LA yield of 338.9 g/kg was obtained from the pretreated cow dung, which was much higher than that obtained from the crude cow dung (135 g/kg), mainly attributed to the breakage of the lignin fraction in the lignocellulose structure of the cow dung by potassium hydroxide (KOH) pretreatment, and thus enhanced the accessibility of cow dung to the acid sites in the catalytic reaction.


Meanwhile, another value-added chemical formic acid could be obtained with a yield of ca. 160 g/kg in the process, implying a total production of ca. 500 g/kg yield for LA and formic acid from the pretreated cow dung with the proposed process. The developed process was shown to be tolerant to high initial substrate loading with a satisfied LA yield. This work provides a promising strategy for the value-increment utilization of lignocellulosic agricultural residues.

View Full-Text




Back to top