New sustainable approaches to plastics and pharmaceuticals

- Mar 05, 2019-

Recently, the us, the university of Texas at Austin, a team of researchers have developed a new method of cost-effective, used in the synthetic production of renewable platform chemicals - three in acetate (TAL), the chemical can be used in the industrial production of innovative drugs and sustainable plastic, the research is published in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences.



Led by Hal Alper, a professor of chemical engineering at the cockrell school of engineering, the new approach increases TAL production by genetically engineering Yarrowia lipolytica, which is far superior to current biological methods.By reconstructing metabolic pathways in yeast through synthetic biology and genetic engineering, the researchers could eventually increase production capacity tenfold, allowing polyketenes to be mass-produced and used in innovative industrial applications.


Polyketones are important natural derivatives and can be used in many useful products, such as nutritional additives, special polymers, pigments and medicines.Currently, there are more than 20 drugs on the market from polyketones, including immunosuppressants, statins and antimicrobials.At present, the synthesis of polyketones is restricted by reaction conditions, which limits its practical application based on consumer and industrial demand.In particular, the limited production of most existing technologies leads to difficult chemical synthesis and poor economy.The team's breakthrough promises to change that.


Using the new method, the researchers were able to purify TAL directly from the bioreactor, creating a new plastic material that appears as an orange transparent film.The research demonstrates the strength of the team in metabolic engineering, where researchers hope to explore new products and industrial opportunities in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors, creating renewable solutions for traditional chemical manufacturing.The university's office of technology commercialization has filed a U.S. patent application for the technology and is working to secure a global patent while seeking commercial partners interested in improving the economics of production of polyketenes or in the manufacture of new materials and products.