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Citrus Tree Derivatives

    What comes to mind when we say creating with Citrus fruits? For us it bears memories of home made lemonade, extra sweet with pulp in tact. Or all the great foods that can be spiced and created with the help of citrus. Perhaps the mind wanders to more topical items like lotions, hand creams, shampoos or other fine smelling items. How about polymer products? Oh no, not the first thing that pops into mind?

    Well, you are not alone. Researchers have only recently started using conifers and fruit tree fragrance molecules. Scientists at the University of Birmingham developed the technique that was initially adapted for 3-D printing, but they are hoping it can have wide spread applications. These applications can include biomedical equipment, polymer coatings, and other polymer applications.

    So what is it that scientists actually found with this fragrant discovery? Well, they found terpenes. Terpenes are the molecules in the essential oils of the plant. More technically they are unsaturated hydrocarbons that are found in confires and citrus trees. These compounds are usually what is used in balms, lotions,household items and other fragrant applications. Unfortunately, these terpenes can be hard to extract. Therefore, many cheaper beauty products and items use synthetic versions of this compound. Another important reason to check the ingredients of your beauty products.

    For scientists studying more wide/spread application of these terpenes, they have to be extracted as resin. This is what the scientists at the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemistry have been able to develop. The method extracts the molecules and converts them into stable resins by combining them with thiols, a sulfur based compound. Through this method, they have made it possible to create these polymer products organically.

    As mentioned, this design was originally created to benefit and improve 3D printing. For them, it aids with the process of stereolithography. For us non-3Ders, we hope and believe that the applications of this method can be much more far-reaching. 

    The new method also has other additional benefits as well. It is a more sustainable way of developing the terpenes. This is because the new method allows us to create polymer coatings and other polymer products that do not rely on petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are harmful to the environment and are often created from non-renewable sources like fossil fuel, coal or gas. This development could ensure a much cleaner method of development.

    While these are great steps forward, the team still needs to analyze how to utilize the terpenes and control them better. Unfortunately for researchers the fragrance still isn’t an applicable part. We are sure, though, that the researches don’t mind the scents of these fine citrus fruits. 

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