Chemical and Biological Engineering, NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
Research Focus Area
Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, Renewable Energy
Journal or Book Title
Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Advances in metabolic engineering have allowed for the development of new biological catalysts capable of selectively de-functionalizing biomass to yield platform molecules that can be upgraded to biobased chemicals using high efficiency continuous processing allowed by heterogeneous chemical catalysis. Coupling these disciplines overcomes the difficulties of selectively activating COH bonds by heterogeneous chemical catalysis and producing petroleum analogues by biological catalysis. We show that carboxylic acids, pyrones, and alcohols are highly flexible platforms that can be used to produce biobased chemicals by this approach. More generally, we suggest that molecules with three distinct functionalities may represent a practical upper limit on the extent of functionality present in the platform molecules that serve as the bridge between biological and chemical catalysis.
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Schwartz, Thomas J.; Shanks, Brent H.; and Dumesic, James A., "Coupling chemical and biological catalysis: a flexible paradigm for producing biobased chemicals" (2016). Chemical and Biological Engineering Publications. 423.