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A novel metabolic pathway enables direct conversion of renewable resources to propylene

A novel metabolic pathway enables direct conversion of renewable resources to propylene

30-Oct-12

A novel metabolic pathway enabling the direct conversion of renewable resources to propylene has been demonstrated by Global Bioenergies. Propylene, mainly used to manufacture polypropylene is the second largest petrochemical by volume and currently represents a market of US$93 bln. Since there are no known natural pathways leading to propylene in microorganisms, creating a process for the direct bio-production of propylene required the design of an artificial metabolic pathway based on previously unknown enzymatic reactions and on novel metabolic intermediates. Several patent applications have been filed for which Global Bioenergies holds exclusive rights. Engineering more active enzymes and implementing these into microbial strains will occur over the next years and should lead to a process prototype, which will remain to be industrialized. The spontaneous volatilization of the gas from the fermentation medium will considerably simplify the purification steps downstream of the fermentation vessel. The company targeted to replicate to other olefins the success already obtained for isobutene, and expects to partner with major industrialists to develop a propylene bioprocess based on the present metabolic assets.

Chemsystems discusses routes to green propylene production, not to be confused with Biopropylene. Cereplast, Inc. is the manufacturer of this proprietary bio-based sustainable plastic with properties equivalent to polypropylene. This hybrid resin replaces 50% or more of the petroleum content used in traditional plastic resins with bio-based materials such as starches from corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes.Globally, the biofuels industry is facing multiple aspects of a crisis most commonly termed �food vs fuel�, indicating the conflict in many local economies and in the global economy stemming from using easily converted starch, sugar, and natural oils and fats resources, and/or the land and water resources needed for their production, to make biofuels. The concern is making them unavailable or too expensive for food and animal feed markets. While biofuels are making demands on food-related resources, the demand for these commodities has increased dramatically with the growth of China and other Asian and developing economies. Many of these populations are demanding and can afford more high-quality food of all kinds in their diet. This growth also has contributed to driving up agricultural commodity and food prices. In fact, even at current high costs per bushel, the corn cost in a typical box of corn flakes, for example, is about 1% of the grocery shelf price. Another type of concern is environmental is the perception of destroying tropical rainforests to develop additional oil palm plantations, not for food, but to supply demand in Europe and elsewhere for biodiesel production. In either case, perception may be as important as fact, and pressure is felt by all stakeholders in the biofuels area to find alternatives to using food and/or agricultural land for biofuels.

 
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