Why Furfural Helps Cellulosic Ethanol

Since the late 1990s: Evaluating 'pros and cons' of known technologies for the production of furfural


Schematic of the STAKE Feeder Gun (Image: K. Zeitsch)

Furfural production vs. Cellulosic ethanol pre-treatment

In the late 1990s and together with Karl Zeitsch we evaluated the ‘pros and cons’ of available or known technologies for the production of furfural, which he also described in his book. One of them was the STAKE process and none of them met our requirements for an efficient stand-alone furfural process.

STAKE Process (Image: Karl Zeitsch)

Recently, we updated our calculations and modelling data from that time and concluded that if STAKE (or similar) technology is used as pretreatment of cellulosic ethanol production, its mass and energy balance can be optimised to produce furfural without compromising the properties of the lignocellulose required for the cellulosic ethanol production. STAKE (and other processes) require some fundamental adjustments to their operating conditions (temp, pressure, stripping rates and cycles, etc.) in order to tune the kinetics and thermodynamics for furfural productions. The ‘trick’ is in finding the The-Right-Balance™, the benefit of which is described in other articles on this site. E.g.:




The schematic shows the residue going to the boiler, which would be the case in a furfural plant, in order to raise the required steam for its production. In conventional furfural plants, all of the residue is consumed for that. However, applying DalinYebo’s The-Right-Balance™ techniques changes this and the lignocellulosic residue is available for cellulosic ethanol production.

Residue from furfural production is the ideal feedstock for cellulosic ethanol.

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