The chemical compound furfural is an industrial chemical derived from a variety of agricultural byproducts, including corncobs, oat and wheat bran, and sawdust. The name furfural comes from the Latin word furfur, meaning bran, referring to its usual source.
Furfural is an aromatic aldehyde, with the ring structure shown at right. Its chemical formula is C5 H4 O2. In its pure state, it is a colorless oily liquid with the odor of almonds, but upon exposure to air it quickly becomes yellow.
Except for occasional use in perfume, furfural remained a relatively obscure chemical until 1922, when the Quaker Oats Company began mass-producing it from oat hulls. Today, furfural is still produced from agricultural byproducts like sugarcane bagasse and corn cobs.
Chemically, furfural participates in the same kinds of reactions as other aldehydes and other aromatic compounds. The aromatic stability of furfural is not as great as in benzene, and furfural participates in hydrogenation and other addition reactions more readily than many other aromatics.
When heated in the presence of acids, furfural irreversibly solidifies into a hard thermosetting resin.
For crop residue feedstocks, about 10% of the mass of the original plant matter can be recovered as furfural. Furfural and water evaporate together from the reaction mixture, and separate upon condensation.
Global total capacity of production is about 450,000 ton. China is the biggest supplier of this product and they have about a half of global capacity.
Furfural, as well as its derivative furfuryl alcohol, can be used either by themselves or in together with phenol, acetone, or urea to make solid resins. Such resins are used in making fiberglass, some aircraft components, and automotive brakes.
Chronic skin exposure can lead to a skin allergy to the substance, as well as an unusual susceptibility to sunburn. In toxicity studies, furfural has led to tumors, mutations, and liver and kidney damage in animals.
US Patent Issued to Archer Daniels Midland on Oct. 15 for "Oxidation of Furfural Compounds" (Illinois Inventor)
Oct 15, 2013; ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 15 -- United States Patent no. 8,558,018, issued on Oct. 15, was assigned to Archer Daniels Midland Co....