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Technology Transfer for Aroma Chemical Research

By: Rich Boden, senior research fellow, IFF
Posted: March 5, 2009

As part of  P&F magazine's continuing series of F&F expert insights, Rich Boden, senior research fellow at IFF, addresses aroma chemical chemistry and research. Send us your own thoughts and feedback here.

The creation of new and unique aroma chemicals has always represented a pursuit of effectiveness and cost-efficiency, but with today’s heightening ecological sensitivities, there is the additional concern that aroma chemicals and their processes be sustainable as well. To serve all these ends at once, increasing global competition demands that fragrance developers incorporate innovative and sophisticated chemical processes and technologies discovered by researchers in areas outside the fragrance industry.

In the context of aroma chemistry, sustainability connotes discovery and production processes that are environmentally benign. To be sustainable, a chemical and its production process should eliminate or reduce ingredients such as solvents and hazardous reagents, as well as waste (including water), energy and any other product or process that might negatively impact the environment.

Today, aroma chemical research is reaping the benefits of new knowledge bases created by pharmaceutical and petroleum chemical research. The incorporation of the knowledge and skills gleaned from the identification, synthesis, and purification of complex pharmaceutical molecules has added new methodologies and tools to the fragrance ingredient chemist’s palette.

In the quest to convert crude oil into chemically functional raw materials, the petroleum industry has contributed new technologies resulting in reaction-specific, recyclable catalysts that yield small molecule building blocks. Originally designed for the next generation of high performance polymers and specialty functional fluids, these new raw materials are allowing the fragrance chemist to create unusual molecular structures possessing unique organoleptic properties.