Washington, August 9 : American scientists have devised an inexpensive process to create furan-based biofuels from cellulose, the most common form of photosynthetically fixed carbon.
Mark Mascal and Edward B. Nikitin at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) say that cellulose can be directly converted into 'furanics', which are furan-based organic liquids.
Furans are molecules whose basic unit is an aromatic ring made of one oxygen and four carbon atoms.
The researchers say that the main product their process provides is 5-chloromethylfurfural (CMF).
According to them, CMF and ethanol can be combined to give ethoxymethylfufural (EMF), and CMF reacts with hydrogen to give 5-methylfurfural, both of which are suitable as fuels.
"Our method appears to be the most efficient conversion of cellulose into simple, hydrophobic, organic compounds described to date," says Mascal.
"It also surpasses the carbon yields of glucose and sucrose fermentation. Furanics could be established as both the automotive energy source and chemical starting material of the future," adds the researcher.
A research article on the study has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.