Dehydration of hexose (from cellulose or hemicelluloses of lignocellulosic materials) leads to the formation of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a product of growing importance that can be used as an intermediate to replace products currently obtained from oil.

The development on an industrial scale of saccharification-dehydration processes of lignocellulosic vegetable biomass (containing hemicelluloses composed mainly of hexose and/or high proportions of cellulose) is a path of great interest, which is increased because HMF itself can react (in an aqueous medium catalyzed by acids, in biphasic media or in media containing ionic liquids) to give levulinic acid and formic acid.

Levulinic acid is the base compound for the synthesis of resins, methyltetrahydrofuran (with applications as a solvent and as a fuel), δ-aminolevulinic acid (a broad spectrum herbicide) and diphenolic acid; while formic acid plays an important role in the chemical industry, with applications as a cleaning agent, solvent, silage and feed preservative, and in the tanning and rubber industries