Vanillin (a Greener and cost-effective conversion of lignin and ferulic acid into vanillin)

Summary of the technology

The innovation represents the conversion of lignin and ferulic acid into vanillin using hydrogen peroxide as an oxidant and vanadium oxide as a catalyst. The innovative process is greener, cost‑effective and cheaper than competitive solutions. Our solution is applicable in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industry.

University of Ljubljana

Details of the Technology Offer

Lignin is a source of many useful chemicals, such as vanillin, vanillic acid, phenol, etc. More than 50 million tonnes of lignin are produced per year, but only 2% is used for industrial purposes. Vanillin is widely used in pharmaceuticals, for flavoring food, as a food preservative, and as a fragrance in cosmetics. As the vanillin market is estimated to be worth more than € 100 billion, many researchers are paying close attention to discovering green and environmentally friendly processes for the synthesis of vanillin from lignin or ferulic acid.

Key advantages of our innovative process: Hydrogen peroxide is used as an oxidant, leaving water as a by-product. Vanadium (V) oxide, a cost-effective chemical that does not require additional ligands, is used as a catalyst; thus making the process cheaper than competitive solutions.

Vanillin is produced selectively. In the oxidative degradation of lignin, three aromatic aldehydes are formed. In our process, the other two aldehydes are converted further and this results in selective formation of vanillin. The process can be modified to convert to other products, e.g. vanillic acid. The advantage of selectivity: at the end of the process it is not necessary to separate the formed aldehydes from each other, which would significantly increase the cost. Improvements also apply to ferulic acid, which is a product of biomass, usually isolated after microbiological degradation of lignin.

Intellectual property status

Patent application filed

Current development status

Technology confirmed in the laboratory (TRL 4)

Desired business relationship

  • Patent licensing
  • Technology development

Intellectual property status

  • Patent already applied for
  • Patent application number :LU102332

Attached documents

Related Keywords

  • Pharmaceutics
  • Care, Hygiene, Beauty, Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical Products / Drugs
  • Biobased Materials related to Industrial Biotechnology
  • Agrofood Industry
  • Technologies for the food industry
  • Food Additives/Ingredients/Functional Food
  • Food Processing
  • Food Technology
  • Food quality and safety
  • Medical Health related
  • Pharmaceuticals/fine chemicals
  • Consumer related
  • Health and beautty aids, Cosmetics
  • lignin
  • wood
  • fragances

About University of Ljubljana

The Knowledge Transfer Office of the University of Ljubljana acts as a bridge between the fields of research and business. We support researchers and students with ideas and potential innovations, while also acting as an access point for companies on the lookout for technology, knowledge, or project partnerships.

Our main objective is to encourage and support various forms of knowledge transfer to the business sector and thus society.

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