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Jürgen O. Metzger

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Michael A. R. Meier

On the way to a biobased chemical industry, fats and oils offer important opportunities for the production of, e.g., diols, polyols, dicarboxylic acids, and ω-hydroxy as well ω-amino fatty acid intermediates for the production of polyesters, polyamides, and polyurethanes. This should ultimately enable us to substitute the respective petrochemicals, which are produced in a million tonnes scale. It is remarkable and breathtaking to observe this impressive development each year in March on the occasion of the international workshop on “Fats and Oils as Renewable Feedstock for the Chemical Industry.”

The 4th workshop was held in March 2011 in Karlsruhe, Germany. During this 3 days event more than 120 academic as well as industrial scientists from 19 countries used this opportunity to renew old and establish new scientific networks and to discuss the state-of-the-art and future perspectives of the chemical use of fats and oils. Thirty-four lectures, together with a poster session, covered all important topics of the field ranging from glycerol to fatty acid derivatives, from chemical to biotechnological conversion, from new aspects of well-known reactions in oleochemistry to completely new approaches, and from fine chemical synthesis to detergents and materials applications including the assessment of the greenness of chemical syntheses. Especially homogeneous as well as heterogeneous catalysis were shown to improve the sustainability of the discussed conversions and open up new application possibilities of oleochemicals. Presentations from industry representatives showed progress in introducing renewable materials to the market. The Book of Abstracts can be downloaded from http://www.abiosus.org/meetings.html.de. A selection of 10 papers of these contributions was chosen for this special issue of EJLST.

The workshop on “Fats and oils as renewable feedstock for the chemical industry” has evolved to a major global oleochemical meeting, attracting participants from all over the world. Moreover, the variety of topics presented within this special issue clearly highlights the great versatility of fats and oils as a renewable resource and the need for basic and applied research as well as interdisciplinary approaches within renewable resource research. If you wish to continue learning about the progress of this field, please attend the 5th workshop on “Fats and Oils as Renewable Feedstock for the Chemical Industry”, which will be held again at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany, March 18–20, 2012. We are planning to cover this event once more with a special issue of EJLST.

We are looking forward to exciting and fruitful discussions and would like to invite you to participate and to share your opinion and results on the chemical use of fats and oils as renewable resources on this occasion. The program and additional information can be downloaded from http://www.abiosus.org/kit-workshop-2012.html.

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Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg & abiosus e.V., Oldenburg, Germany

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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany