xF Technologies’ production process converts renewable biomass materials such as cornstarch, sugarcane and cellulosic biomass into safe and nontoxic renewable chemicals. It is a two-step, low cost thermochemical process that first generates a sugar derivative called CMF (5-chloromethyl furfural) followed by a catalytic step to convert the CMF into a finished product.
In the first step, hydrochloric acid (HCl) is used to break down the feedstock into C6 sugars that are subsequently converted into CMF. This reaction occurs via a non-catalytic proprietary process that operates at about 100°C and 7 atm of pressure.
The reactor effluent passes through a filter for the recovery of hydrothermal carbon (HTC), an effective soil amendment or an absorbent. After HTC removal, the two phases are separated into an aqueous and an organic phase:
- The aqueous phase is routed to an acid recovery unit where the acid is concentrated and pumped back into the CMF reactor. As a result of the acid concentration, a stream of potable water is generated.
- The organic phase contains the CMF as well as a solvent and is routed to a solvent recovery unit where the solvent is separated and recycled to the CMF reactor.
The concentrated CMF stream flows to a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) for conversion to the finished product via a catalytic process. The CSTR operates at 30°C and 1 atm of pressure. Because of the mild operating temperatures and pressures, low cost metallic and plastic processing equipment can be utilized.
In addition to the CMF stream, inputs into the CSTR include the catalyst, the alcohol or diol and a base that recovers the chlorine atom from the CMF. The effluent enters a filtration unit to remove any solids and then goes to a recovery unit to separate the salt from the 408 product.
The proprietary organic catalyst is manufactured and supplied by xF Technologies.
A simplified process flow diagram is shown below.