Bio-based p-Xylene oxidation into terephthalic acid by engin
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bejoy
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Bio-based p-Xylene oxidation into terephthalic acid by engin


KAIST researchers have established an efficient biocatalytic system to produce terephthalic acid (TPA) from p-xylene (pX). It will allow this industrially important bulk chemical to be made available in a more environmentally-friendly manner.

The research team developed metabolically engineered Escherichia coli (E.coli) to biologically transform pX into TPA, a chemical necessary in the manufacturing of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This biocatalysis system represents a greener and more efficient alternative to the traditional chemical methods for TPA production. This research, headed by distinguished professor Sang Yup Lee, was published in Nature Communications.

The research team utilised a metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approach to develop a recombinant microorganism that can oxidise pX into TPA using microbial fermentation. TPA is a globally important chemical commodity for manufacturing PET. It can be applied to manufacture plastic bottles, clothing fibres, films, and many other products. Currently, TPA is produced from pX oxidation through an industrially well-known chemical process (with a typical TPA yield of over 95 mol percent), which shows, however, such drawbacks as intensive energy requirements at high temperatures and pressure, usage of heavy metal catalysts, and the unavoidable byproduct formation of 4-carboxybenzaldehyde.


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