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Furans are a group of heterocyclic organic compounds, consisting of a five-membered aromatic ring with four carbon atoms and one oxygen atom. Furan derivatives, namely furfural and furfuryl alcohol, are used as speciality solvents. Further, these are the main ingredients of thermosetting resin, namely a furan resin, endowed with specific properties like corrosion resistance, high carbon yield, stability at high temperature, low fire hazard and higher physical strength. These resins are used in foundry molds, fibreglass composites, cements and plastic insulation foams. It is a versatile building block for constructing several important compounds. The furan ring system is a constituent of the chemical structure of various compounds having antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antitumor, antihyperglycemic, analgesic and anticonvulsant properties.
The Hydrogenation of furans gives, sequentially, dihydrofurans and tetrahydrofurans (THF). THF is a cyclic ether and a versatile aprotic solvent. Due to its miscibility with water, its can form solid clathrate hydrate structures with water at low temperatures. Tetrahydrofurans are widely used as solvents for hydroboration reactions. Owing to their strong coordination property, THF, 2-methyl-THF, and other analogs, can be used to make solutions of organometallic compounds such as organolithium and Grignard reagents. THF is used in the field of polymer chemistry to dissolve polymers prior to determining their molecular mass using gel permeation chromatography.