Furfural is an organic compound obtained during the dehydration of sugars. Its IUPAC name is furan-2-carbaldehyde. The word, furfural comes from the Latin word furfur that stands for bran, its usual source. Sugars present in a variety of agricultural byproducts such as corn cobs, oats, wheat bran, and sawdust are used to produce furfural. It is commonly used in many processed foods and beverages.
Furfural is a colourless liquid that darkens on exposure to air. It is the best-known member of the furan family. Furfural meaning is furfuraldehyde or also called 2-furaldehyde. It is also an important source of other furans. The boiling point of furfuraldehyde is 161.70C. The furfural structure is given below:
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The chemical formula for furfuraldehyde or furfural aldehyde is C4H3O-CHO. In 1922, Quaker Oats company started producing furfural from oat hulls for commercial use much after its discovery by a German scientist Johann Wolfgang in 1821. The industrial development of the production of furfural is a great example of how industries utilize agricultural residues. The major raw material source of furfural such as corncobs, oat hulls, cottonseed hulls, rice hulls, and bagasse are replenished annually ensuring a constant supply of raw material for the production of furfural.
In large rotary digesters, lots of raw material and dilute sulphuric acid are steamed under pressure. The furfural form is continuously removed with steam and then concentrated with the help of distillation. The furfural obtained by distillation separates into two layers of condensation and the wet furfural at the bottom is dried with the help of vaccum distillation to obtain furfural with a minimum of 99% purity. Given below is the dehydration reaction of pentoses under an acid catalyst.
C5H10O5 → C5H10O2 + 3H2O
The furfural price remains stable in the market and is readily available at Furfural sigma Aldrich. Global demands of furfural remain high with China as its leading production capacity of 85% and consumption of 75%.
Properties of Furfural
Furfural has a molecular weight of 96.08 g/mol. It is denser than water and water-soluble. Its vapours are heavier than air. It has a distinct caramel taste and smells somewhat like benzaldehyde. It has a boiling point of 161.70C. It is considered a major platform chemical that is used in the production of various other chemicals.
Furfural strongly resembles benzaldehyde in its reactions as an aldehyde. In the presence of strong aqueous alkali, it undergoes a Cannizaro reaction. It dimerizes furoin under the influence of potassium cyanide and by the action of ammonia is converted into hydro furamide (C4H3O-CH)3N2.
On exposure to air at room temperature, furfural degrades into formic acid and formerly acrylic acid. Furoic or furfural acid is a crystalline solid, white in colour, and is used as a bactericide and a preservative. Its esters are fragrant liquids commonly used in perfumes and flavourings.
5-methyl 2-furaldehyde is an arenecarbaldehyde that is slightly soluble in water and is used as a food flavouring agent. It is also used as a fragrance agent for in-home products or similar industrial products.
5-hydroxy methyl furfural is an organic compound obtained upon dehydration of sugars, which is highly soluble in water and organic solvents. It is used as an additive agent in the food industry and also in the production of various fuels and chemicals. It is absent in fresh food but is naturally generated upon heating of sugar-containing food items.
Furfural is one of the furan derivatives from hemicellulose present in lignocellulosic. It is naturally obtained upon dehydration of xylose, which is a pentose sugar. This heterocyclic and aromatic aldehyde consists of an aldehyde side group and a furan ring. It is a colourless liquid and has an oily appearance with an almond-like odour. Furfural has various industrial purposes being a platform chemical that is used in the production of various other chemical compounds. It is also used in the production of furan compounds.