San Diego, California - Genomatica, a sustainable chemicals specialist, has used a novel bioprocess to produce pure BDO (1,4-butanediol) from natural sugar to greater than 99 percent purity using a cost-effective recovery process, the company said recently.
Genomatica begins the new process by producing BDO in fermentation broths generated by microbes engineered to directly produce BDO from sugars, also using process designs and equipment compatible with large-scale chemical production, the statement said. "Fully integrated, the process will offer Genomatica's partners a competitive advantage relative to producers that today generate BDO entirely from fossil fuels," the company said.
"With a cost advantage over traditional manufacturing processes, our bio-manufacturing method for BDO will release chemical producers from the fluctuations of the hydrocarbon markets and lower their overall carbon footprint, while meeting the growing demand for sustainably manufactured products," said Genomatica ceo, Christophe Schilling.
In order to commercialise the process, the company set three key laboratory-scale development milestones, which it said it has now satisfied. The milestones were:
• Show organisms can directly produce BDO in a fermentation broth from sugars;
• Show the yield and rate of BDO production and concentration can reach levels consistent with commercial goals; and
• Show BDO can be purified from the fermentation broth using a cost-effective scalable process.
Genomatica said its ability to produce BDO from both six- and five-carbon sugars now opens the way to possible second-generation BDO processes that use carbohydrates derived from lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood residue, municipal paper waste, agricultural waste or energy crops like switchgrass. The company also stated that its researchers have demonstrated 20 000-fold increases in the concentrations of BDO that microbes can produce, thereby approaching the commercial levels needed to manufacture large volumes of BDO at reduced cost.
The company said it will refine the process to further improve cost-efficiency and then commercialise the process with partners through licensing or other means.
BDO is used to make a range of products including polyurethanes, elastic PU fibres, engineering plastics, solvents and electronics chemicals. (RD)