Production of HMF, FDCA and their derived products: a review of life cycle assessment (LCA) and techno-economic analysis (TEA) studies

Matthew Davidson, Shaun Elgie, Sophie Parsons, Tim Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (SciVal)
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The chemical industry is increasingly looking to develop bio-based alternatives to petroleum-based platform chemicals, in order to reduce dependence on diminishing fossil resources and to decrease GHG emissions. 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) are two examples of bio-based
chemicals which could allow for the synthesis of a wide range of chemicals and materials, particularly polymers, from renewable feedstocks. This review paper summarises and critically evaluates results from existing
life cycle assessment (LCA) and technoeconomic analysis (TEA) studies of HMF and FDCA synthesis and, by
doing this, provides several points of advice for future investigations and assessments of synthetic routes
towards these bio-based products. Chemical considerations such as choice of solvent system, catalyst and
energy production are reviewed; and methodological issues in LCA, such as treatment of biogenic carbon
and allocation methods, are discussed. Overall, results suggest that the production of HMF and FDCA-based
products may offer lower impacts from CO2 emissions than their fossil-based counterparts, but this often
comes with an increase in environmental impacts in other impact categories. Higher operating costs from
expensive fructose feedstocks and high energy demands also make HMF and FDCA less economically
viable than current chemicals. Moving forwards, further investigation into different lignocellulosic feedstocks, energy production units and the development of new catalytic systems may help in making HMF
and FDCA production more favourable than the production of fossil-based counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3154 - 3171
Number of pages18
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number9
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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