The dehydration of D-fructose to 5-hydroxymethylfurfural was studied under single-phase conditions in the low boiling solvent 1,4-dioxane at moderate temperatures in the presence of the solid acid-catalyst Amberlyst-15. The reaction was first examined and optimized under batch conditions, where it was found that the yield could be increased up to 75 % by adding small amounts of DMSO. Subsequently, the reaction was performed under continuous flow in a fixed bed reactor. Internal and external mass transfer limitations could be eliminated by changing the particle size and by adjusting the flow rate. Under continuous conditions, the HMF yield could be further increased to 92 %; the space-time yield was found to be 75 times higher compared to the batch case. A long-term stability test (96 h), including solvent regeneration, demonstrated that the catalyst is stable over time. Additionally, it was shown that even small amounts of water have a negative effect on the HMF yield. Overall, the present system shows a good alternative to other systems presented in literature because high space-time yields and selectivities were obtained under relatively mild and continuous conditions.
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