Monday, July 11, 2011

Avantium Moving Ahead w/ Furanics, More Renewable Chemistry


Avantium has recently partnered with Solvay, and with the Pacific Northwest National Labs, to help advance its production of renewable building blocks (furanics) for production of plastics and other renewable materials and fuels.

In other renewable chemistry news: Arizona State U. engineers have modified an E. Coli strain to produce styrene from glucose. Genes from yeast, plants, and bacteria were combined to facilitate the biosynthesis.
Engineers at Arizona State University have engineered E. coli to produce the commodity petrochemical styrene—a synthetic chemical derived from petroleum and natural gas products that is used worldwide in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing—from glucose. The styrene biosynthesis pathway was constructed using genes from plants, yeast, and bacteria.

...The US styrene industry is a diversified approximately $28-billion industry comprising hundreds of companies with thousands of facilities, according to the Styrene Information & Research Center (SIRC). SIRC is a non-profit organization comprising voting member companies involved in the manufacturing or processing of styrene, and associate member companies that fabricate styrene-based products. _GCC
This kind of sophisticated gene engineering -- combining genes from different organisms and classes of organisms to create a novel biosynthesis pathway -- is still in the earliest stages. As the tools of metagenomics and synthetic biology take off, we are likely to see some genuinely startling products rolling off the renewable chemicals lines.

In the long run, more robust biomimetic nanotechnological catalysts will be substituted for biological enzymes, for high volume production under relatively harsh conditions.

The bottom line is that renewable feedstocks will be substituted for petro-feedstocks as the economic factors allow.



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