Plastic waste from food delivery quickly pollutes the environment. An alternative that has emerged is bioplastic, also known as biodegradable plastic. Bioplastic that uses environmentally friendly raw materials emits fewer polluting substances during the production process and has natural degradation properties. Recently, a joint research team between Korea and Spain has recreated bioplastic from waste by-products of gas fermentation from steel mills.
Through joint research with the Spanish Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), a research team led by Professor Gyoo Yeol Jung, Ph.D. candidates Dae-yeol Ye and Jo Hyun Moon, and Dr. Myung Hyun Noh of the Chemical Engineering Department of POSTECH have developed a technology to generate artificial enzymes from E. coli. The joint research then succeeded in mass production of itaconic acid, a source material for bioplastic, from acetic acid in E. coli. This study was published in nature communication.
Itaconic acid produced by fungi with membrane-coated organelles is used as a raw material for various plastics, as well as for cosmetics and antibacterial agents. Although the global market value this year is estimated to be high at about KRW 130 billion (USD $91 million), its production and use are limited due to its complex manufacturing process and high production costs.
For this reason, studies are actively being conducted to produce itaconic acid with industrial microorganisms such as E. coli. Although E. coli can be produced from inexpensive raw materials and is easy to grow, additional raw materials or processes were required to produce itaconic acid, as it does not have membrane-coated organelles.
Using biosynthesis, the joint research team developed an artificial enzyme to pave the way for E. coli to directly produce itaconic acid without membrane-enclosed organelles. The research results showed that the newly developed enzyme in E. coli can be used to produce itaconic acid. With this technology, it is now possible to build a microbial cell factory that can easily produce itaconic acid from cheap and diverse raw materials.
This research result is assessed as an important original technology for producing itaconic acid from by-product of steel mill gas fermentation products, seaweed, as well as agricultural and fishery by-products such as lignocellulosic biomass. By replacing the petrochemical feedstock with biosynthesized itaconic acid, the new technology is expected to contribute to a carbon neutral society and significantly expand the market for itaconic acid.
Team creates microbe to convert waste into useful chemicals
Dae-yeol Ye et al, Kinetic compartmentalization by unnatural reaction for itaconate production, nature communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33033-1
Provided by Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH)
Quote: Steel mill gases converted to bioplastic (2022, October 18) retrieved October 18, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-steel-mill-gases-bioplastic.html
This document is copyrighted. Other than fair dealing for personal study or research, nothing may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.