Newswise — As oranges are peeled, they spray a tangy, citrus scented oil into the air. The main compound in the fragrant mist is limonene, which can be collected from discarded peels and used in flavorings, perfumes and all-purpose cleaners. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry have treated limonene with electricity and ethanol, transforming it into a mixture of pleasant-smelling aroma compounds, some of which haven’t been identified before.

Limonene is regularly used in its original form, but it can also be the starting platform for other scents. But synthetic oxidation techniques that can perform this transformation have traditionally required environmentally harmful substances, such as strong chemicals and heavy metals. So, Holger Zorn and colleagues tested an environmentally benign oxidation method, mixing limonene with ethanol and applying an electrical current to the solution. The process generated an amber-colored liquid with a pleasant odor and 17 different compounds that had fruity, herbal, citrus and resinous notes. According to the researchers, this is the first time that most of these compounds have been described. The simple, sustainable method could create valuable aroma compound mixtures for flavorings or fragrances, but the compounds must be evaluated for safety before use in commercial products, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from Landes-Offensive zur Entwicklung Wissenschaftlich-ökonomischer Exzellenz (LOEWE)-AromaPlus (State Offensive for the Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence).

The paper’s abstract will be available on June 1 at 8 a.m. Eastern time here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jafc.2c01301.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact [email protected]

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram