Department Seminars: A New Strategy for the Production of Furan Dicarboxylic Acid

Speaker Professor Kiyotaka NAKAJIMA, Institute of Catalysis, University of Hokkaido, Japan JST, ALCA, Japan

Host Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Date/Time 20 Nov - 20 Nov, 11.00am

Venue E5-02-32 , Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore


The utilization of 5-(hydroxymethyl)furfural (HMF) for the large-scale production of essential chemicals has been largely limited by the formation of solid humin as a byproduct, which prevents the operation of stepwise batch-type and continuous flow-type processes. The reaction of HMF with 1,3-propanediol produces an HMF acetal derivative that exhibits excellent thermal stability. Aerobic oxidation of the HMFacetal with a CeO2-supported Au catalyst and Na2CO3 in water gives a 90–95% yield of furan 2,5-dicarboxylic acid, an increasingly important commodity chemical for the biorenewables industry, from concentrated solutions (10–20 wt%) without humin formation. The six-membered acetal ring suppresses thermal decomposition and self-polymerization of HMF in concentrated solutions. Kinetic studies supported by DFT calculations identify two crucial steps in the reaction mechanism, that is, the partial hydrolysis of the acetal into 5-formyl-2-furan carboxylic acid involving OH- and Lewis acid sites on CeO2, and subsequent oxidative dehydrogenation of the in situ generated hemiacetal involving Au nanoparticles. These results represent a significant advance over the current state of the art, overcoming an inherent limitation of the oxidation of HMF to an important monomer for biopolymer production.


Kiyotaka Nakajima received his PhD in Chemistry from Tokyo Institute of Technology (TokyoTech) in 2006 under supervision of Professor Takashi Tatsumi. After working with Dr. Shinji Inagaki at TOYOTA R&D Labs., Inc. (2006-2007) for the development of solar hydrogen production with the combination of novel metal nanoparticles and periodic mesoporous organosilicas, he joined Materials and Structures Laboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology as assistant professor to work with Professor Michikazu Hara (2007-2015). His primary focus was the development of sulfonated carbon and mesoporous transition metal oxides as stable and highly active solid Brønsted acid catalysts for biomass conversion. He extended his research interests to Lewis acid catalysis of metal oxides for sugar conversion, and started one project focusing on the development of heterogeneous Lewis acid catalysts for biomass conversion in JST (Japan Science & Technology) Agency, PRESTO. He was appointed in 2015 as associate professor at Catalysis Research Center, Hokkaido University and started working with Professor Atsushi Fukuoka. He is now a project leader in JST, ALCA, targeting on the production of carboxylic acids and alcohols from biomass-derived sugars. He received young researcher awards in 2012 (the Japan Petroleum Institute) and in 2015 (Catalysis Society of Japan).