A new biological route for large scale manufacture of methacrylic acid from renewable feedstocks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Biological Sciences


Methacrylic acid (MA) is an important industrial chemical used in the manufacture of transparent polymers such as poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), and is manufactured in large amounts (approximately 3 million tonnes per year). Various approaches have been tested for manufacture of MA and MA esters (MAE) from renewable sources using microorganisms. In this project, together with our industrial partners, we aim to engineer a metabolic pathway for the production of MAE in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and to further engineer the host strain to improve tolerance and secretion of this compound and reduce formation of undesirable by-products. We will also test different processes using engineered strains to optimize product formation, including elements such as integration of non-biological catalysts and use of surfactants for product extraction. Ultimately we hope to achieve a clean, efficient and cost effective process for production of MAE, which can be scaled up for commercial use. This project should provide excellent training in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and industrial process design, working closely with industrial partners to achieve our goal.


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