25
September
2015
|
12:20
Europe/London

New routes to the sustainable manufacturing of chemicals

  • Researchers have developed a new system that could allows more efficient production of chemical compounds
  • The findings are published in the leading journal Science
Chemicals

University of Manchester researchers have developed a novel biocatalytic system that potentially allows for the efficient and environmentally benign production of organic chemical compounds used in many everyday products. The findings are published in the leading journal Science.

University of Manchester researchers have developed a novel biocatalytic system that potentially allows for the efficient and environmentally benign production of organic chemical compounds used in many everyday products. The findings are published in the leading journal Science.

Amines are key intermediates for the synthesis of a plethora of chemical compounds at industrial scale used in the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients, fine chemicals, agrochemicals, polymers, dyestuffs, pigments and plasticising agents. But these requisite amines are scarce in nature.

Although various methods have been developed in the past decade to produce these specialised high-value chemicals, they require long chemical synthetic routes involving complex reaction steps with potentially toxic side-products and waste streams.

 

This fundamental research builds on the MIB’s expertise in biocatalysis and forms the basis for the development of new applications in the sustainable manufacture of fine and speciality chemicals
Professor Nicholas Turner

Researchers at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), in collaboration with BASF, have developed a system that replaces these methods with a clean biocatalytic route whereby high value amines are synthesised from low cost alcohols by the coupling of two enzymes, namely an ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) and an AmDH (amine dehydrogenase) in the presence of ammonia. Normally these enzymes would require excessive amounts of expensive co-factors to drive the individual reactions but these co-factors are recycled through the coupling of ADH and AmDH in a one-pot reaction whose sole by-product is water.

This new route offers potential economic as well as environmental benefits and will provide opportunities for industrial exploitation, including the synthesis of new chemical libraries that will support industrial and academic drug discovery programmes. Developing the use of biocatalysts within the chemical manufacturing industry could lead to efficient production routes to high yields of complex chemicals, whilst using less energy and generating less waste than conventional processes.

Professor Nicholas Turner explains the importance of this process: “This fundamental research builds on the MIB’s expertise in biocatalysis and forms the basis for the development of new applications in the sustainable manufacture of fine and speciality chemicals. The development of this new generation of biocatalysts should lead to economic and environmental improvements in the manufacture of a range of chemicals, including pharmaceuticals and polymers. It also offers the possibility of circumventing current industrial processes which are reliant on scarce natural resources.”

Notes for editors

This research was supported by the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement 266025 (BIONEXGEN) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). ADHs were supplied by BASF.

Mutti, F G; Knauss, T; Scrutton N S; Breuer, M and Turner, N J T. “Conversion of alcohols to enantiopure amines through dual–enzyme hydrogen-borrowing cascades” will be published in Science on Friday 25 September 2015.

More information about the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology can be found at www.mib.manchester.ac.uk

Professor Turner is available for interview on request.

 

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