Prof Patents Chemical Process
Courtesy: Inside Loyola Magazine
Late last year, Loyola University signed a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement for a fragrance and flavors technology with India-based chemical companies Raigad Petroleum and Privi Organics, one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of aroma chemicals in India. The technology was invented by James Babler, PhD, a longtime member of the University’s chemistry department.
The agreement provides Privi and Raigad with exclusive license to Dr. Babler’s unique chemical process, which will allow the companies to more quickly and inexpensively manufacture high-value fragrance and flavor compounds, such as safranal, the aroma of saffron, the world’s most costly spice, which is used in bath oils, face creams, and other cosmetics. Safranal is also used regularly in incense candles, to flavor rice, and to “aromatize” wine. By using Dr. Babler’s chemical process, the compounds can also be produced in a more environmentally friendly way.
Dr. Babler, who joined Loyola’s chemistry department in 1970 and has patented more than 20 inventions, achieved his latest technology while working with one of his undergraduate research assistants, a biology minor. “Similar to many other important inventions, what we ended up with in our experimental results wasn’t exactly what we were initially searching for,” says Dr. Babler. “That’s the beautiful thing about science—even when things don’t go as you expect, you have the opportunity to achieve something unique and in this case, very useful.”
Raigad Petroleum will build a pilot plant to manufacture and sell the safranal in India, and its sister company, Privi Organics, will have exclusive rights to market safranal around the world. Loyola will receive a licensing fee and commercialization-related royalties based on product sales. Loyola ranks 45th in the nation among research universities in licensing revenue.