Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge: 2016 Small Business Award
Renewable Nylon Through Commercialization of BIOLONTM DDDA
- Engineered a yeast to make a USDA Certified Biobased chemical that is used to make nylon 6,12 for:
- fragrances; and
- automotive and aviation oils.
- This new process:
- uses a plant-based feedstock;
- has lower greenhouse gas emissions; and
- is safer because it does not use high temperatures or concentrated nitric acid.
Summary of Technology:
Verdezyne developed a yeast fermentation technology platform to provide manufacturers and consumers with renewable alternatives to existing petroleum-based chemical intermediates. This technology focuses on the production of dicarboxylic acid chemical intermediates such as adipic acid, sebacic acid and dodecanedioic acid (DDDA). The first of these to be commercialized will be BIOLON™ DDDA, which will be used primarily in the manufacture of nylon 6,12 for engineered plastics that require special properties such as high chemical, moisture, or abrasion resistance. Other uses for DDDA are in the manufacture of adhesives, coatings, corrosion inhibitors, lubricants, and fragrances.
The current global demand for DDDA is estimated to be 100 million pounds per year. All DDDA currently on the market is produced from fossil-based sources, with the largest volume manufactured via trimerization of butadiene, followed by hydrogenation and oxidation with nitric acid. Verdezyne’s process for production of BIOLON™ DDDA uses fatty acid feedstocks sourced from the co-products of vegetable oil refining as the starting raw material. In addition to providing a renewable alternative, this process offers a higher level of manufacturing safety since high temperature and pressure and concentrated nitric acid are no longer needed. Moreover, Verdezyne’s process also results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Verdezyne’s production of BIOLON™ DDDA is an aerobic fermentation process integrated with downstream product isolation and crystallization. The fermentation converts the twelve carbon fatty acid, lauric acid, to DDDA through the activity of Verdezyne’s proprietary, genetically engineered Candida sp. yeast. The biochemical pathway involved is the three-step ω-oxidation pathway that sequentially oxidizes the terminal end of an alkane (or a fatty acid) to a carboxylic acid. Verdezyne scientists specifically engineered this yeast to enable rapid, high-yield production of DDDA while minimizing the accumulation of pathway intermediates that can be toxic to the organism and detrimental to final product purity.
Verdezyne’s proprietary method for producing renewable BIOLON™ DDDA has been successfully demonstrated on a larger scale, enabling the production of over 70,000 pounds thus far. The product has met all industry quality specifications and has also earned the USDA Certified Biobased product label. The company’s first commercial production facility is scheduled to open in 2017.