Researchers develop better way to make painkiller from trees

By Chris Hubbuch, University of Wisconsin-Madison
April 8, 2024
Category: Carbon, Climate & Bioenergy
Region: United States, US East

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable way to make a popular pain reliever and other valuable products from plants instead of petroleum. Building on a previously patented method for producing paracetamol—the active ingredient in Tylenol—the discovery promises a greener path to one of the world’s most widely used medicines and other chemicals. More importantly, it could provide new revenue streams to make cellulosic biofuels—derived from non-food plant fibers—cost competitive with fossil fuels, the primary driver of climate change. …Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is one of the most widely used pharmaceuticals, with a global market value of about $130 million a year. …the drug has traditionally been made from derivatives of coal tar or petroleum. …The paracetamol molecule is made of a six-carbon benzene ring with two chemical groups attached. Poplar trees produce a similar compound called p-hydroxybenzoate (pHB) in lignin…

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