Hydroxymethylfurfural production from bioresources: past, present and future
5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) has been known as a product from hexose dehydration for over 100 years and is considered to be one of the most promising platform molecules that can be converted into a variety of interesting chemicals. HMF, together with furfural and 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) are derivatives of furan compounds, which were listed as the top 10 value-added bio-based chemicals by the US Department of Energy. The great and increasing interest in the production of furan derivatives from biomass resources is due to the great potential of furan derivatives as feedstock for bulk chemicals and fuels. HMF can be synthesized by dehydration of all types of C6 carbohydrates, including monomeric and polymeric carbohydrates, such as fructose, glucose, sucrose, starch, inulin, cellulose, and raw biomass. Numerous improvements and milestones have been made in the dehydration process during the past 130 years. The big challenge for the process of HMF production is its suitability for industrial scale yet being cost efficient. This perspective article will review the HMF development timeline, focusing on the important events, landmark contributions, engineering and practical challenges of HMF production.