NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Home > Science > Genetics & Breeding Research > Novel and Non-food crops > Bio-based antioxidants

Bio-based antioxidants

Use of rosemary to provide raw materials for developing a new genre of Bio-based antioxidants

Contact: Dr Lydia Smith

This project is addressing each facet of the value chain for the synthesis and testing of high quality, environmentally-sustainable antioxidants (AO) from rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), grown and processed in the UK. These will substitute for existing synthetic AOs and in some products will be both safer and more effective than synthetic alternatives. Antioxidants are a vital constituent of a broad range of materials. This is an opportunity to enable the totally green supply of lubricants, cosmetics/health products and polymer packaging thus catalysing market opportunity for much wider crop production for fossil fuel replacement (oilseeds, cereals etc) which would be used to manufacture these biological based products. The economics and chemistry of product development for these three generic industrial uses will be defined.

The raw material Active Ingredients (AI) for these new bio-antioxidants particularly rosemarinic acid, carnosol and carnosic acid, can be extracted from rosemary and are highly effective in stabilisation of a range of industrial products. Three major end uses have been selected for development based on market potential and needs (1. Polyolefin plastics, used in food packaging; 2 Cosmetics and some health products; 3 Lubricants- especially biolubricants).

There is evidence that rosemary grown in the UK may contain significantly higher levels of AI than current sources in southern Europe and has potential for production at competitive prices (10). The projected acreage for supply of the chosen markets can be seen in Table 1, below. The consortium will tackle the conversion of the raw material derived from rosemary to produce highly efficient antioxidants that are chemically tailored in terms of physical activity and deployed in valuable industrial end-uses. In parallel with this work, agronomic, genetic and physiological issues relating to the economic cultivation of rosemary will be examined together with a fast, efficient, cost effective assay to determine AI content. It will then go on to optimise production and formulation of the final products.

See also

Funding: Project sponsored by Defra through Renewable Materials LINK programme; Horticultural Development Council and industrial support.

Collaborating Organisations: Bangor University; Aston University; Croda Europe; Lubrizol; Frontier Agriculture; Boots Alliance; Co-Op Retail; Industrial Co-Polymers; Uponor Housing Solutions Limited