Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Leading a team of researchers at Perdue University, Abu Omar, a chemist and chemical engineer, recently developed a new method of catalytic conversion to turn lightning, which makes up a plant’s cell walls and serves as support beams that hold the plant upright and carry its water, into products that can either fuel one’s car or flavor one’s cupcake.
“The majority of synthetic vanilla is produced from petroleum,” Abu-Omar said. “This would be from a natural source versus coming from a petroleum byproduct.” He added.
Before this innovation, Abu-Omar said lignin’s only value was that this resulting biomass could be burned for heat as a byproduct of processing ethanol from cellulose.