Catalytic valorization of starch-rich food waste into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF): Controlling relative kinetics for high productivity

Iris K.M. Yu, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Alex C.K. Yip, Season S. Chen, Lei Wang, Yong Sik Ok, Chi Sun Poon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed to maximize the valorization of bread waste, a typical food waste stream, into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) by improving our kinetic understanding. The highest HMF yield (30�mol%) was achieved using SnCl4 as catalyst, which offered strong derived Br�nsted acidity and moderate Lewis acidity. We evaluated the kinetic balance between these acidities to facilitate faster desirable reactions (i.e., hydrolysis, isomerization, and dehydration) relative to undesirable reactions (i.e., rehydration and polymerization). Such catalyst selectivity of SnCl4, AlCl3, and FeCl3 was critical in maximizing HMF yield. Higher temperature made marginal advancement by accelerating the undesirable reactions to a similar extent as the desirable pathways. The polymerization-induced metal-impregnated high-porosity carbon was a possible precursor of biochar-based catalyst, further driving up the economic potential. Preliminary economic analysis indicated a net gain of USD 43-236 per kilogram bread waste considering the thermochemical-conversion cost and chemical-trading revenue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes



  • 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural
  • Acid-catalyzed reaction
  • Biorefinery
  • Food waste
  • Waste valorization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Waste Management and Disposal

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