A new study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society reveals the increasing use of plant essential oils in development of personal care products such as sunscreens and perfumes thanks to a Nobel Prize winning technology, leading to new economic opportunities for tropical countries that grow such plants.
Deryn Fogg, Eduardo dos Santos and colleagues explain that breaking down plant material into ingredients for making commercial products is getting much attention as a sustainable substitute for raw materials now obtained from petroleum. They decided to test a complementary approach, which involves enhancing the complexity of substances found naturally in plants in ways that form antioxidants and other components of cosmetics and perfumes. Current methods for making some of these ingredients from plants are time-consuming, costly and wasteful. That's why the scientists turned to "metathesis" topic of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to make personal care product ingredients from plant essential oils.
They describe use of metathesis in the laboratory to transform compounds in essential oils into highly valuable personal care product ingredients. "These methodologies offer the potential for economic expansion via the sustainable cultivation and elaboration of high-return source species in the tropical countries that represent the major producers of essential oils," say the researchers.