1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Plant-Based Chemistry for the Post-Petroleum Age

December 3, 2013

Everyone is talking about an energy revolution but a chemistry revolution is rarely mentioned. This is depite the fact that this sector is even more heavily dependent on crude oil than energy suppliers.

Image: picture alliance/dpa

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.