Can plants replace oil derived compounds?

Dr Vera Thoss (centre) with the conference speakers from left to right, Dr Robert Nash, Phytovation, Dr Jeremy Tomkinson NNFCC, Ed Galley, Alliance Boots Global Product Development, Prof. John Pickett, Prof Ray Marriott Bangor University.Dr Vera Thoss (centre) with the conference speakers from left to right, Dr Robert Nash, Phytovation, Dr Jeremy Tomkinson NNFCC, Ed Galley, Alliance Boots Global Product Development, Prof. John Pickett, Prof Ray Marriott Bangor University.Bangor University is responding to the ever increasing price of oil and the global depletion of fossil fuel supplies by pioneering research into the extraction of useful compounds from every day plants. It is hoped that this work will provide the next generation of bio-products and fuels, and perhaps even reduce our dependence on oil.

In order to highlight recent developments in this field Bangor University recently hosted the first ever conference of its kind in the UK.  The School of Chemistry welcomed experts in the field of plant biorefining and featured a keynote address by Dr Jeremy Tomkinson, CEO of the NNFCC (The National Non Food Crop Centre) who is a Bangor graduate.

Bangor University is already working in partnership with a number of local businesses who attended and presented their current work to the conference. Publicising this work via a conference also highlighted other opportunities for collaboration that exist in this exciting cutting-edge area. 

One project highlighted at the Conference is the use of a new environmentally benign or ‘green’ technique to extract materials such as waxes, oils, antioxidants, pharmaceuticals and also fragrance ingredients from plants. The method uses carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of fossil-fuel derived solvents. The project is being conducted by Professor Ray Marriott of Bangor University in partnership with Welsh companies  Phytovation of Caernarfon, Alzeim Ltd,, and Agrisense. Bangor University houses one of the UK’s two  extraction plants of this type, called supercritical CO2 extraction.  The hope is to expand the capacity of Bangor’s plant in the future.

Ray said "This event received a positive response from all the delegates and it is intended that this conference will be the first of an annual series of events in plant chemistry"

The conference was organised by Dr Vera Thoss an Academic at the School of Chemistry and highlighted the recent advances in plant chemistry and in particular the application of plant extracts of purified compounds used as plant protection agents, cosmetic ingredients, packaging or other industrial applications.  For more details on the conference programme and to view the presentations check out the web site:  www.chemistry.bangor.ac.uk/plants

Publication date: 9 September 2011