Chemicals From Wood (Waste)

The timber industry generates waste. This can be put to use in the future. (Symbolic photograph: Colourbox)

A research team led by Switzerland’s science and technology university ETH Zurich has demonstrated a new process that manufactures succinic acid from wood instead of oil.

Succinic acid is a major basic chemical product that is added to fuel and lubricants to protect motors from corrosion.

The new process uses bacteria to manufacture succinic acid in a method demonstrated to be cost-effective, environmentally friendly and safe.

Succinic acid

Succinic acid is added to fuel and lubricants to protect motors from corrosion. It goes under the name of E 363 in the food industry, where it is used as an acidifier and flavour enhancer, and to introduce air into food products. However, succinic acid is used predominantly as a starting point to create a huge range of chemical compounds: among other things, it is used to manufacture vitamins, medication, solvents, crop protection products, polymers and aromatic substances for perfumes.


Morales M, Ataman M, Badr S, Linster S, Kourlimpinis I, Papadokonstantakis S, Hatzimanikatis V, Hungerbühler K: Sustainability Assessment of Succinic Acid Production Technologies from Biomass using Metabolic Engineering. Energy and Environmental Science, 24 May 2016, doi: 10.1039/C6EE00634E