Fast Screening of Solvents for Simultaneous Extraction of Furfural, 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural and Levulinic Acid from Aqueous Solution Using SMD Solvation Free Energies

Acid catalyzed decomposition of C5 and C6 sugars has been considered an important source of biomass derived chemicals. An essential step in this process is the extraction of furfural, hydroxymethylfurfural and levulinic acid from aqueous phase. In this work, a computational screening of 178 organic solvents for simultaneous extraction of these chemicals from aqueous phase has been done with the continuum SMD (solvation model based on density) model. Our analysis has taken in account the partition coefficient, water miscibility, boiling point and toxicity of the organic solvents. The present theoretical results indicate that C6 and C7 ketones are the most adequate solvents, and 4-heptanone is predicted to be particularly useful.