University of Delaware

Scientific Research Thrusts and Enabling Technologies

Green Aromatics

Transition state for the Diels-Alder reaction of 2,5-dimethylfuran and ethylene in zeolite LiY

Most polymers and plastics require six-carbon ring structures. Sugars (such as glucose and xylose) derived from cellulose and hemicellulose are converted into five-atom ring structures called furans, which consist of four carbons and one oxygen. In order to make the right carbon atom ring, CCEI has introduced technology for the production of aromatics from furans by combining reactor experiments and first-principles computations. The overall chemistry combines cycloaddition and dehydration chemistries. In one example, glucose derived from biomass is initially reacted to produce dimethylfuran (DMF), which is then reduced and reacted to make para-xylene with 90% yield. Para-xylene can be used for the production of terephthalic acid and eventually for polyester PET.