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Scientists make common pain killers from pine trees instead of crude oil

Date: 10.7.2023 

A team of scientists, from the University of Bath's Department of Chemistry and Institute for Sustainability have found a way to create two of the world's most common painkillers, paracetamol and ibuprofen, out of a compound found in pine trees, one which is also a waste product from the paper industry.

Kredit: University of Bath.It is perhaps not widely known that many common pharmaceuticals are manufactured using chemical precursors derived from crude oil, presenting a niche sustainability challenge as the world targets Net Zero.

The research team from Bath has developed a method of creating a range of pharmaceutical precursors from biorenewable ?-pinene, a component of turpentine which is a waste by-product from the paper industry (annual production >350,000 tons).

They successfully converted ?-pinene into two everyday painkillers, paracetamol and ibuprofen, which are produced on ~100,000 ton scales annually.

They also successfully synthesized a range of other precursor chemicals from turpentine, including 4-HAP (4-hydroxyacetophenone), which is the precursor of drugs including beta-blockers and the asthma inhaler drug, salbutamol, as well as others widely used for perfumes and in cleaning products.





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