Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Wood instead of petroleum: New approach to producing chemical substances from renewable resources

26.10.2015

Scientists create a new international research consortium to develop a sustainable chemical infrastructure

Petroleum might well be replaced by wood soon when it comes to manufacturing chemical substances. Research has now made significant progress towards using sustainable biomass, like wood, as an alternative raw material for chemical production.


Molecules from wood: Production of active substances from wood-based starting materials

Ill./©: Jason W. Runyon

Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany and at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in the USA recently managed to synthesize two complex chemical substances from wood-based starting materials.

The process can be as cost-effective as the conventional petroleum product-based process and is less damaging to the environment. "Our aim is to manufacture everyday products from renewable resources without an impact on the environment while at the same time ensuring that the process is economically competitive," explained Professor Till Opatz of Mainz University. The results of their research have been published in the prominent journal Angewandte Chemie.

The German research team led by Professor Till Opatz at JGU's Institute of Organic Chemistry participates in the interdisciplinary research consortium Chemical BioMedicine (ChemBioMed) funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation and works on the synthesis of substances that can inhibit tumor cell growth.

The US research group under Professor Anthony J. Arduengo III is particularly interested in developing industrially applicable methods for using materials derived from wood biomass for the sustainable manufacture of a broad array of basic chemicals such as, for example, substances used to produce automotive coatings, plastics, adhesives, and other commodity materials.

At a conference in Goslar in Germany about two years ago, the two researchers realized that their experience and expertise complemented each other perfectly for addressing issues surrounding sustainability of a modern chemical industry. Since then, a vigorous exchange of researchers and students between Mainz and Tuscaloosa has fueled the collaboration.

The two teams have now been able to demonstrate wood-based, or xylochemical, syntheses of substances for which petroleum products are usually employed as starting materials. This new work shows that the relevant carbon skeletons can be created solely from wood-based starting materials. In the case of one target compound, the natural product ilicifoline B, no comparison with a petrochemical route was possible as this substance had never before been synthesized in a laboratory. But when it came to derivatives of the natural painkiller morphine, the new xylochemical synthesis turned out to be significantly more efficient than any previously known route based on petrochemistry.

"This shows that the implementation of a wood-based chemical economy is not necessarily associated with decreased cost-efficiency," added Daniel Stubba, JGU first author of the publication. "Xylochemistry could represent an important alternative to the climate-damaging use of the earth's finite resources of natural oil and gas in the production of chemicals."

Further related research is ongoing in the two laboratories and additional international collaborators have been recruited to address a broader range of connected topics. For this latter purpose, an international research consortium called StanCE (Sustainable Technology for a new Chemical Economy) has been established. It brings together researchers from the USA, Germany, Japan, and Canada who are collaborating on the development of an alternative, sustainable chemical infrastructure that does not consume finite resources and avoids ecological imbalances while remaining cost-efficient.

Wood contains a variety of potential starting materials that, because of their chemical structure, are better suited than petroleum products for many applications. It is often necessary to subject the latter to extensive transformation processes before they acquire comparable functionality.

"Wood is the ideal raw material because it is renewable and an easily accessible resource at the same time. Its composition is like a box of varied building blocks from which products for today's modern world can be manufactured," said Opatz, adding that Alabama and Germany, like Canada, have extensive available wood resources.

Illustration:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/bilder_presse/09_orgchemie_xylochemie.jpg
Molecules from wood: Production of active substances from wood-based starting materials
Ill./©: Jason W. Runyon

Publication:
Daniel Stubba et al.
Xylochemistry – Making Natural Products Entirely from Wood
Angewandte Chemie, 21 October 2015
DOI: 10.1002/anie.201508500

Further information:
Professor Dr. Till Opatz
Institute of Organic Chemistry
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
D 55099 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 39-22272 or 39-24443
fax +49 6131 39-22338
e-mail: opatz@uni-mainz.de
http://www.chemie.uni-mainz.de/OC/AK-Opatz/index_ENG.php

Related links:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/anie.201508500/abstract
http://www.wiley-vch.de/util/hottopics/suschem/

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/19700_ENG_HTML.php - press release

Petra Giegerich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Could this protein protect people against coronary artery disease?
17.11.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

nachricht Microbial resident enables beetles to feed on a leafy diet
17.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>