A path away from reliance oil

A path away from reliance on oil

7:25 AM, 24th May 2016
A path away from reliance on oil
Biomass such as this waste from palm oil production could replace petrochemicals for making nylon.

SINGAPORE: The dream of replacing petrochemicals with renewable resources in the manufacture of synthetic fibers and plastics has moved a step closer. Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) researchers have genetically modified the bacterium Escherichia coli to produce a compound that can be converted into a base material for manufacturing nylon and other synthetic products.

“We need to reduce consumption of oil and gas and move toward more sustainable technologies,” explained Sudhakar Jonnalagadda who carried out the work with colleagues at the A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences.

Production of most synthetic fibers and plastics begins with crude oil; a finite resource whose extraction and processing has significant environmental impact. The alternative sustainable route uses bacteria to make the precious starting materials from simple substances such as glucose. The glucose can be extracted from biomass which includes crops and other biological materials that can be grown to meet demand.

Bacteria do not naturally produce the required products in significant quantities, so the trick is to persuade these microorganisms to become mini manufacturing plants for chemicals required by industry. One such chemical is muconic acid, which can be readily converted into adipic acid, a chemical used in huge quantities to manufacture nylon.

The A*STAR team inserted three genes into E. coli to establish the metabolic pathway that produces muconic acid. Adding these new genes, however, was the first step in a complex genetic engineering task. “A major challenge was to modify the normal E. coli pathways to divert more glucose toward our desired product,” said Jonnalagadda.

He explained that the combined activity of the foreign and the native genes must be controlled to prevent the accumulation of metabolic intermediates as well as to maximize the efficiency of muconic acid production. This was achieved by using computer simulation to analyze the metabolism of the modified bacteria which helped to pinpoint the required genetic changes.

The researchers are now investigating other ways to make the production of muconic acid more efficient. Already, though, this new process produces the compound more efficiently with use of inexpensive and less complex raw materials compared with alternative options.

“We are at the early stage,” said Jonnalagadda, assessing the path from the current achievement into commercial applications. The same research route is also leading the A*STAR researchers and others worldwide to make a wide range of compounds to free the chemical manufacturing industry from its reliance on oil.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences.

© A*STAR News



Your Comments (Up to 2000 characters)
Please respect our community and the integrity of its participants. WOC reserves the right to moderate and approve your comment.

Related News

RSA-Talke opens first phase of integrated chemicals hub in Dubai

DUBAI, UAE: RSA-Talke has opened the first phase of its integrated chemicals hub in Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone with an official ceremony. The f ...

Read more
Chemists add colour to chemical reactions

SYRACUSE, US: Chemists from Syracuse University have come up with an innovative new way to visualize and monitor chemical reactions in real time. Me ...

Read more
Right size and right chemistry equal right stuff for plastics manufacturing

GAITHERSBURG, US: Plastic manufacturing is an energy-intensive process. Now, research performed in part at the National Institute of Standards and Tec ...

Read more
Stepan to close Canadian chemical plant; cuts 30 jobs

NORTHFIELD, US: Stepan Company plans to cease all production activities and shutdown its Longford Mills, Canada facility by the end of 2016. This deci ...

Read more
Bayer offers $62 billion cash to acquire Monsanto

NEW YORK, US: Bayer AG has made an unsolicited $62 billion all-cash offer to acquire Monsanto Company, creating the world’s biggest supplier of ...

Read more
Laser treatment, bonding potential road to success for carbon fiber

OAK RIDGE, US: Joining carbon fiber composites and aluminium for lightweight cars and other multi-material high-end products could become less expensi ...

Read more
www.worldofchemicals.com uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. X