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Plant-Based Chemistry for the Post-Petroleum Age

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The conversion to environmentally friendly energy sources is currently a hot topic but there’s scant mention of any change in the chemicals industry. And that’s surprising since the industry’s chief raw material - petroleum oil - is running out. Almost 90 percent of the products manufactured by the chemicals industry - plastics, washing and cleaning products, cosmetics, medicines and paints - are all based on petroleum derivatives. But can the industry function without this finite fossil resource? Yes, says chemist and entrepreneur Hermann Fischer. He’s been campaigning for eco-friendly chemical production for more than 30 years - with plant oils, resins, starch, sugars, dyes and fibers all offering viable alternatives to petroleum.