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A bio-based caprolactam joint-development project is now underway

By Scott Jenkins |

Last month, Genomatica (San Diego, Calif.; www.genomatica.com) and Aquafil (Trento, Italy; www.aquafil.com) announced a partnership to commercialize a Genomatica process for making caprolactam derived from renewable feedstocks, rather than from petroleum. The cyclic amide caprolactam is a key intermediate for the production of nylon. The two partners are advancing Genomatica’s Geno CPL process, with the goal of arriving at a fully commercial process for making high-quality, bio-based caprolactam with economics that are competitive with conventional caprolactam. Genomatica has not yet commented on commercialization timelines and specific cost targets. An important element of the process is a high-yield microorganism being engineered by Genomatica for the fermentation step of the process, which will use sugars from a variety of sources as the feedstock. Aquafil is a leading producer of nylon with expertise in converting caprolactam to the synthetic polymer nylon-6. The company is focused on developing more sustainable processes for making the material, which has widespread use in apparel, carpeting and other markets. In work that is complementary to its project with Genomatica, Aquafil is also working on a process known as the Econyl…
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