International Flavours & Fragrances received US patent 6187741 13 February for its improvement on its 1998 US patent 6117835, which is an environmentally friendly fermentation method of manufacturing flavours and fragrances. Both patents are titled: "Process for preparing saturated lactones, products produced therefrom and organoleptic uses of said products."

The Patent Office employed three examiners (rather than the usual one) to vet this highly technical patent application.

Perfumery is a secretive field, and lactone-based has only three current players, PFW (Netherlands), T. Hasegawa Co. and Givaudan-Roure (International).


    A two phase environmentally friendly fermentation process for producing high yields of .delta.-decalactone and .delta.-dodecalactone from the corresponding unsaturated starting materials is carried out under oxidative growth conditions using a saccharomyces species. The resulting products impart, augment and/or enhance the aroma and/or taste of consumable materials including foodstuffs, chewing gums, toothpastes, beverages, fragrance compositions, colognes and perfumed articles such as solid or liquid, anionic, cationic, non-ionic or zwitterionic detergents, fabric softeners, and hair preparations.

First of 20 Claims:

A process for the production of a .delta.-lactone compound represented by the structural formula, wherein R is a member selected from the group consisting of methyl and n-propyl comprising:

    (a) preparing an aqueous nutrient medium containing a nutrient source, a buffer and yeast extract at a pH in the range of from about 3.5 up to about 8.0;
    (b) preparing as a Saccharomyces yeast culture suspension by inoculating a medium comprising water, a carbon source, a nitrogen source and one or more inorganic salts with a Saccharomyces yeast;
    (c) mixing the resulting yeast culture suspension with the aqueous nutrient medium in order to form a first aqueous liquid phase
    (d) preparing as a second organic liquid phase an admixture of:
    (i) an organic phase former which is a triglyceride of a fatty acid or high molecular weight hydrocarbon; and
    (ii) a natural 2-decen-1,5-olide or a natural 2-dodecen-l,5-olide represented by the structural formula, wherein R is selected from the group consisting of methyl and n-propyl; 
    (e) mixing said first aqueous liquid phase and said second organic liquid phase together with agitation in order to form a reaction medium;
    (f) feeding dextrose to said reaction medium at a rate of 5 to 72 g/L/hr so as to maintain said dextrose at a concentration of from 0.01 up to 1.5 grams/liter; and
    (g) supplying the reaction medium with an oxygen-containing gas at such a rate as to enable the oxygen level in the reaction medium to be maintained at a level of at least about 0.1 liters/liter of reaction mixture;

whereby at least 10% dissolved oxygen as measured by a standard oxygen probe is present in the reaction medium at all times during the reaction, in order to maintain oxidative growth conditions to thereby achieve a biotransformation in the presence of a yeast capable of producing said natural .delta.-lactone compound having the structure, the biotransformation being carried out at a temperature in the range of from 20-50° C.

By Navroz Havewala, correspondent