This invention can be used to develop alternative methods to produce ethylene glycol -- an important compound used as feedstock for polymer production and as a coolant -- that does not use fossil fuels as a raw material.
Currently, ethylene glycol is produced from ethylene oxide, which is in turn derived from fossil fuels. Mounting issues such as price fluctuations, supply instability, and environmental concerns are driving the search for alternative methods to generate ethylene glycol. This invention provides an engineering scheme for the biomediated production of ethylene glycol from lignocellulosic biomass.
Methods to break down hemicellulose contained in biomass into simple 5-carbon sugars are well documented. This invention comprises an enzymatic reaction scheme to convert the simple sugars (e.g., xylose, arabinose, etc.) to ethylene glycol in three stages. First, the sugar is cleaved enzymatically into glycolaldehyde and dihydroxyacetone phosphate. Second, dihydroxyacetone -- a byproduct from the cleavage in the first step -- is converted into glycolaldehyde. Finally, the glycolaldehyde generated in the previous two stages is enzymatically reduced to ethylene glycol.
The enzymes necessary to catalyze each step in the process are expressed in genetically engineered bacteria. In proof-of-concept trials, the Inventors have demonstrated the conversion of D-arabinose and D-xylose to ethylene glycol with up to 35% yield (by mass).
Produces ethylene glycol from renewable feedstock
- Able to utilize a number of different pentose sugars