Rice University researchers develop glycerine-based succinic acid

19 May 2010 23:35  [Source: ICIS news]

PHOENIX (ICIS news)--Researchers from Texas-based Rice University have identified the metabolic process that can convert glycerine into succinic acid using E.coli bacteria, lead researcher Ramon Gonzalez said on Wednesday.

The researchers engineered the E coli, which produced succinate by fermenting crude glycerine, said Gonzales.

Succinic acid is used in a variety of applications such as plastics, pharmaceutical intermediates and solvents.

“Given its availability and low prices, glycerol has become an ideal feedstock for fuel and chemical production via microbial fermentation,” Gonzalez said during a presentation at the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) meeting.

Gonzales and his team was also able to convert crude glycerine into 1,2 propanediol, ethanol and lactic acid using the Ecoli strain.

The glycerine technology received this year’s Glycerine Innovation Award, which is annually given by the Soap and Detergent Association and the National Biodiesel Board at the AOCS meeting.

Gonzales said the technology was being licensed by start-up company Glycos Biotechnology (GlycosBio), based in Houston, Texas. GlycosBio was founded by Gonzales in 2007.

GlycosBio announced on 4 May that it was building a biochemical plant in Malaysia with a capacity between 20,000 and 40,000 tonnes/year. The plant would produce bio-based acetone, technical grade ethanol and isoprene.

Construction of the GlycosBio plant would begin in third quarter 2010 and would be completed in early 2012.

The AOCS meeting ran through Wednesday.

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By: Doris de Guzman
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