Experimental and theoretical studies on imidazolium ionic liquid-promoted conversion of fructose to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural†
A combined experimental and computational study on the imidazolium ionic liquid-promoted conversion of fructose to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) was performed. In particular, 1-butyl-3-methyl-imidazolium bromide (BMImBr) was found to be unexpectedly effective for conversion of fructose into HMF without utilizing any other additive or catalyst. Under the optimized conditions, nearly 100% conversion of fructose with a 95% yield of HMF could be obtained. In addition, BMImBr could be easily recovered and reused over 6 times without significant loss of activity. This protocol represents a simple, recyclable and environmentally friendly pathway for HMF production. Furthermore, the detailed mechanism of the BMImBr-promoted conversion of fructose into HMF was also studied through an in situ FT-IR technique, NMR and density functional theory calculations, and demonstrated that the hydrogen bond interaction between BMImBr and fructose could play an important role in promoting the dehydration of fructose. This work also provides further understanding at the molecular level of the reaction process for ionic liquid-promoted conversion of fructose to HMF.