These resources have been reviewed and selected by STEM Learning’s team of education specialists for factual accuracy and relevance to teaching STEM subjects in UK schools.

Green vanilla

Many of the chemicals we use as drugs, flavourings and perfumes originate from natural sources but often the most economical way of obtaining them is to produce them artificially on an industrial scale. Scientists at the University of Oxford are researching into how to use enzymes to make these processes as efficient and sustainable as possible.

In this activity students find out about the chemical that gives vanilla its popular flavour - vanillin. They evaluate three different ways of producing vanillin artificially and learn about how to evaluate how 'green' chemical processes are using the principles of green chemistry.


Learning Outcomes

  • Students learn that many chemicals that originate from natural sources can be produced artificially.
  • Students evaluate industrial processes using the principles of green chemistry. 


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