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 New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>