The UK government should focus on 10 specific bio-based chemicals in order to boost industrial growth, jobs, trade and investment in the UK, says a new report.

Bio-based chemicals are produced from plants, rather than petroleum, and could replace toxic or environmentally damaging petro-chemicals in many products and processes. The report identifies ten bio-based chemicals where the UK could take the global lead.

The report was developed by LBNet and sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), in consultation with biotechnology and chemistry experts from business, academia and the public sector.

The 10 bio-based chemicals are:

  • Lactic acid: Used to make PLA, which can be used for biodegradable plastics
  • 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA): An alternative to PET, which is used to make plastic bottles, food packaging and carpets
  • Levoglucosenone: An alternative to toxic solvents used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, flavours and fragrances.
  • 5 Hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF): A building block for plastics and polyesters
  • Muconic acid: Its derivatives could replace non-sustainable chemicals used in the production of plastics and nylon fibres
  • Itaconic acid: A replacement for petroleum-based acrylic acid, used to make absorbent materials for nappies; and resins used in high-performance marine and automotive components.
  • 1,3-Butanediol: A building block for high value products including pheromones, fragrances, insecticides, antibiotics and synthetic rubber
  • Glucaric acid: Prevents deposits of limescale and dirt on fabric or dishes, providing a green replacement for phosphate-based detergents
  • Levulinic acid: Used in the production of environmentally friendly herbicides, flavour and fragrance ingredients, skin creams and degreasers
  • n-Butanol: Used in a wide range of polymers and plastics, as a solvent in a wide variety of chemical and textile processes and as a paint thinner.

This story uses material from LBNet, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.