Researchers Develop Plant-Based, Eco-Friendly Method to Produce Tylenol

lab
Smithsonian Magazine

Acetaminophen—the active ingredient in many Americans’ go-to pain reliever, Tylenol—typically stems from a surprising source: coal tar, a viscous liquid produced when oxygen-deprived coal is subjected to high heat.

But a new method developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC) offers an environmentally friendly alternative to this fossil fuel-heavy process, drawing on a natural compound derived from plant material to synthesize the popular medication. Per a press release, the technique is outlined in a patent recently awarded to a team led by UW-Madison biochemist John Ralph.

Field-to-product integration