The Department of Organic Analytical Chemistry at the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, located at the Straubing Campus for Biotechnology and Sustainability at the Technical University of Munich, deals with the analysis, extraction and synthesis of natural products.
Of particular importance to us are natural substances that either already have a considerable technical application or have the potential to do so. For example, sunflower oil contains a source of very pure oleic acid, which is currently used for biodiesel production or for the production of detergents and soaps. As part of the search for new fields of application, we are experimenting with syntheses that allow intermediate products to be used for the production of plastics. The identification of catalysts and reaction conditions plays a key role in this. While in this case the raw material is already on the market on a large scale, vegetable oils often also contain low-concentration admixtures, which can, however, be of very high quality and represent a valuable product in their pure form. In this context we are working on extraction techniques. We do not limit ourselves to improvements to commonly used methods such as solvent extraction, but develop innovative approaches based on physical principles that have so far been little used.
Plants seldom contain a few ingredients, but usually a cocktail of compounds that include not only typical molecules of plant metabolism such as amino acids and sugars, but also rare and often unidentified substances. When processing technical plant extracts from industrial production, there are always approaches that contain highly enriched substances that have not yet been identified. We use numerous chromatographic purification methods, physical and instrumental structural analysis and, in interesting cases, total synthesis to elucidate the structure of these materials. In addition, we are dedicated to the determination of the bioactivity of different natural substances, especially in the field of carcinogenic and neurodegenerative diseases.