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Dung-Derived Vanillin Awarded

Posted: October 23, 2007

Improbable Research, which celebrates quirky scientific inquiry, has awarded its chemistry Ig Nobel honor to Mayu Yamamoto (working at the International Medical Center of Japan in cooperation with Sekisui Chemical) for her work in extracting vanillin from cow dung. (The key is a high lignin content.) The hour-long “heating and pressuring process” reportedly produces an extract that is appropriate for fragrance applications and food-safe. However, Yamamoto has acknowledged that the material’s source might make its food application untenable. Interestingly, the cow-dung extraction process costs less than half of traditional vanilla bean extraction processes, meanwhile solving an agricultural recycling problem.