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Improving enzyme performance for making chemicals

By Tetsuo Satoh |

By genetically modifying E. coli — introducing four enzymatic genes from bacteria of the Clostridium family — Mitsui Chemicals Corp. (Mitsui, Tokyo, www.mitsuichem.com) has increased the selectivity for fermenting glucose into isopropyl alcohol (IPA) from 40% to up to 70%. The company has also developed biocatalysts for producing glucose from molasses and from wood-based biomass. The results are part of an ongoing project in which Mitsui plans to develop enzymatic processes for making four products: IPA for producing propylene; hydroquinone as a precursor for producing phenolic and polycarbonate resins; and D- and L-lactic acid for polylactic acid production. The company is now conducting studies needed for scale up in three, 300-L fermenters, and plans to have sample products based on the enzymatic routes available within 1–2 years.   Click here for a full pdf version of the Chementator Section
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