The Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) is investing £250,000 in developing market opportunities for existing arable by-products and co-products.
It has awarded The University of Reading and Rothamsted Research £235,000 to develop a process for the production of ferulic acid from wheat bran.
Dr Dimitris Charalampopoulos, who will be leading the research, said: “Plant materials are rich in ferulic acid, which can be converted into vanillin. This can be used to add flavour to a variety of products or as an active agent in a range of personal care formulations, such as sun creams and anti-ageing skin care products.”
Currently, ferulic acid is mainly produced commercially from the residues generated during the production of rice bran oil. However, wheat bran has great potential as a UK source because it contains relatively high concentrations of the acid.
It is estimated that around one million tonnes of wheat bran is produced annually in the UK and that this could equate to a potential ferulic acid production of up to 5,000t, according to HGCA.
The proposed research will generate the technical know-how for the development of a scalable, cost-effective and efficient process for ferulic acid production.