Skip to main content


Are catalysts really required to convert sugars to furans?


The necessity of using solid catalysts for the conversion of monosaccharides to furans, such as furfural (FUR) and hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), is the paradigm reflected in hundreds of published scientific articles every year, where authors try explaining the mechanisms of surface reactions and increasing product yields with a wide variety of innovative catalytic materials.

A modelling-supported kinetic study by the young researcher Ana Jakob from the Department of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering managed to demonstrate, that the most effective conversion of monosaccharides into HMF is achieved in the absence of any catalyst with acidic sites, the materials most frequently tested in the literature. Despite the energy barrier of chemical reactions is lowered by the use of catalysts, the reduction with catalysts known so far is always disproportionately higher for undesired reactions compared to the desired dehydration step. The study also showed that due to the high difference between the activation energies of the desired and undesired reactions, the optimal synthesis should be carried out at very high temperatures and extremely low residence times.

The publication in prestigious Green Chemistry (IF=11.0) journal demonstrates the originality of the young researcher and her research group. It represents a leap forward beyond the state-of-the art and shifts the established paradigms on the field of catalytic biomass conversion.


Figure: Validation experiments of (a) homogeneous fructose dehydration and (b) H-BEA catalysed fructose conversion under the predicted optimal conditions.

The article is available in open access

Contact person: miha.grilc(at)




Left: 3D structure of PC-PLC. Right: Synergistic effect of PC-PLC on LLO membrane binding and pore formation. Unique…
The chemical regulation of human cells by small molecules plays an important role in the design of new gene and cell…
The discovery of the CRISPR/Cas system was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. Researchers from the…
Ljubljana, 10 November 2021 - Researchers from the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Technology (D09), Prof. Dr.…
Ljubljana, July 6, 2021 - The Corona crisis has been plaguing us for almost a year and a half. It has posed…
color contrast
text size
highlighting content
zoom in