2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) is a highly promising biobased building block for resins and polymers. FDCA is advocated as a green replacement for (fossil-based) terephthalate a predominant compound in polymer and resin manufacture today, with a potential market size of several 100 M of US$. A major issue in realising the potential of biobased FDCA, however, is its limited availability.
This limited availability is also a major hurdle for the applied research into FDCA as a building block to replace terephthalate. In a public-private partnership with Dutch industry, Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research works at eliminating this crucial hurdle, by developing a process that will allow the production of sufficient quantities of pure FDCA for application tests.
Research conducted at Food & Biobased Research is directed at converting renewable biomass feedstocks, such as, agricultural biomass into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). This chemical compound can be converted into FDCA by bacteria through fermentation, and is therefore an important precursor to FDCA.
In the first phase of the project, researchers have worked towards achieving a proof of concept by submitting lignocellulosic biomass to a series of pretreatments and separations, thereby producing the first lignocellulose-derived HMF. Samples of this raw HMF will be tested as feedstock for FDCA fermentation by the industrial partners. The ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable, scalable method to produce low-cost HMF from lignocellulosic biomass. This project is co-funded by the BE Basic programme, a large public private consortium in the field of sustainable chemistry and ecology.