Researchers at Tohoku University (Japan) have developed an efficient method for converting glucose into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF) in the presence of CrCl3 catalyst by using the ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methyl imidazolium chloride as solvent. HMF can be converted into plastics, petroleum or diesel fuel extenders, or into diesel fuel. (Earlier post.)

A paper on their work was published online 26 July in the journal ChemSusChem.

They achieved a 5-HMF yield of 71% in 30 s for 96% glucose conversion with microwave heating at 140 °C. The activation energy of glucose conversion was determined to be 114.6 kJ mol-1, with a pre-exponential factor of 3.5×1014 min-1.

They also studied fructose, sucrose, cellobiose, and cellulose; 5-HMF yields of 54% were obtained for cellulose conversion at 150 °C during 10 min of reaction time. Recycling of the ionic liquid and CrCl3 is demonstrated with six cycles of use.


  • Xinhua Qi, Masaru Watanabe, Taku M. Aida, Richard L. Smith Jr (2010) Fast Transformation of Glucose and Di-/Polysaccharides into 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural by Microwave Heating in an Ionic Liquid/Catalyst System. ChemSusChem doi: 10.1002/cssc.201000124