In future, it could be easier to break down wood, as a source of raw materials, into its constituent parts. Chemists at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr have found an efficient way of making the components of the biopolymer lignin easier to use. Lignin stabilises plant cells and contains organic compounds, which are valuable to the chemicals industry for the production of biofuels, for example. The compounds in lignin are, however, difficult to access. The chemists in Mülheim can now chemically convert these building blocks so that they are more readily available.