Dimethylfuran [DMF]

Not much is known at the moment about DMF except that is seems to have a leg up on ethanol in a number of capacities. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison reported in the 21 June 2007 issue of the journal Nature that they had achieved in producing DMF from biomass sugars.

dimethylfuran molecule

photo by Lycaon

Production

Sugars are first converted into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) in water with an acid catalyst. A copper-based catalyst converts HMF into DMF by removing two oxygen atoms. The result is a lower boiling point, a quality which makes it a viable transportation fuel.

Compared to Ethanol

DMF has 40% greater energy density than ethanol. It is non-water soluble, meaning it can’t absorb atmospheric water and become contaminated. DMF is stable in storage and, in the evaporation stage of its production, consumes one-third of the energy required to evaporate a solution of ethanol produced by fermentation for biofuel applications.

“We can produce a liquid transportation fuel from biomass that has energy density comparable to petrol.” — Dr. Professor James Dumesic, Univ. of Wisconsin

The Future …

DMF's future as a transportation fuel is up in the air. For example, some of its environmental effects are still unknown. However, according to the head of the research done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Professor Dumesic, this process of production shows that, “we can produce a liquid transportation fuel from biomass that has energy density comparable to petrol.”

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Related Resources

    Treehugger.com: DMF Wikipedia: DMF Greencarcongress.com: DMF

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