Furfural is a heterocyclic compound consisting of a furan. It is a colourless to amber/reddish-brown liquid with a penetrating odour. It is classified in organic compound and has a chemical formula of C4H3OCHO. Furfural is an essential renewable, non-petroleum based, chemical feedstock which is primarily composed of various agricultural by-products, including oat husks, wheat bran, corncobs, and sawdust. Chemically, furfural is an organic compound belonging to an aldehyde of furan with the odour of almonds.
Furfural is produced annually from renewable agricultural sources such as corn cobs, rice hulls, wood, and wood products where the pentosans are hydrolyzed to pentoses and the pentoses subsequently cyclo-dehydrated to furfural. In all processes, raw material is charged to the digestor and treated with strong inorganic acid. High pressure steam is introduced through the mass and, after attaining operating temperature and pressure, furfural is steam distilled.
Furfural is unusually effective as a solvent for phenolic resins. In the manufacture of abrasive wheels, brake linings and refractory products for the steel industry, furfural is known as a reactive solvent and excellent wetting agent.
Furfural is an important renewable, non-petroleum based, chemical feedstock. Hydrogenation of furfural provides furfuryl alcohol (FA), which is a useful chemical intermediate, and which may be further hydrogenated to tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol (THFA). THFA is used as a non-hazardous solvent in agricultural formulations and as an adjuvant to help herbicides penetrate the leaf structure.
Refining of lubricating oils & decolorizing agent
Furfural has the unique property to dissolve aromatics and other unsaturated olefins. Furfural is used as a selective solvent in the refining of lubricating oils. This technology leads to production of high quality motor oil with improved temperature-viscosity properties. Aromatics, polar components, mercaptans are removed from petroleum by means of furfural extraction. Furfural can also be used as decolorizing agent to refine crude wood rosin.