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BASF has developed a new process to produce L-menthol and will unveil a new production plant at its Ludwigshafen site this summer. (Read our earlier story on the company's distribution deal with Global Essence here.)
The company said the latest innovation is due to "strong global demand that can no longer be adequately met by plant-based manufacture alone." BASF’s new process for L-menthol is based on the aroma chemical citral, which is already produced in BASF's Verbund system.
"One of the key steps in the new process is called asymmetric hydrogenation," said BASF research scientist Rocco Paciello. "For this purpose, we have developed a special, highly efficient catalyst system which ensures that mainly just a certain enantiomer is synthesized from the citral."
In two further synthesis steps, the intermediate is then used to produce the L-menthol. It is a continuous process in which substances are constantly added and removed so therefore it has no downtimes, according to BASF. "This not only saves time but is more resource-efficient because more L-menthol with a purity of at least 99.7% can be produced using the same amount of starting materials," the company said.
BASF reiterated that its new production process will offer high purity, nature-identical menthol in sufficient quantities, for dental and oral care products, perfumes, ointments to relieve cold symptoms and even grill sauces.