Furfural, a five-membered heterocyclic aromatic hydrocarbon derivable from acid hydrolysis of sugar cane bagasse, maize cob, rice husk or any cellulose-containing material, is useful in the synthesis of a range of specialized chemical products. Its condensation with nitromethane in basic medium yields 2-(2-Nitrovinyl) furan. This functional group (nitrovinyl) has been documented as a potent anti-microbial agent against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, with more potency against the gram-positive strains. The reaction of urea and thiourea with furfural yields bisimines-1,3-bis[(E)-furan2-yl)methylene]urea, and 1,3-bis[(E)-furan-2-yl) methylene]thiourea respectively. The two compounds are good antimicrobial agents in addition to the latter as a potential dye for wool and cotton fabrics with different hues. Also the reaction between acetophenone and furfural (an aldehyde) in a basic medium yields the chalcone: (E)-3-(furan-2-yl)-1-phenylprop-2-ene-1-one. This chalcone has been confirmed as a good antifungal agent and wood-protector against termite attack. Thus, chemical modification of the aldehyde functional group of furfural to nitro, imine and chalcone groups imparted different activities on furfural.
Part of the book: Furan Derivatives