Led by CSP Investigators Michelle Chang and Paul Dauenhauer, researchers have developed a two-step pathway to produce petroleum-like liquids from renewable materials, such as glucose.
The hybrid approach combines fermentation and chemical synthesis, and it has the benefit of competing economically with conventional products derived from fossil fuels, while also improving sustainability. Technologies were integrated to find the lowest-energy and lowest-cost processing techniques leading to the most overall efficient method of making chemicals.
“This advance from the NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers demonstrates a truly innovative, green entry into the building blocks for valuable polymers/plastics,” said NSF Chemistry Division Director David Berkowitz. “By cleverly combining biology and chemistry, the Chang team has opened a new, potential bio-renewable alternative to petroleum cracking. These results showcase how NSF investments in collaborative, interdisciplinary science can push the envelope toward developing more sustainable chemical industries.”
These renewable liquids could serve as a more sustainable replacement for today’s fossil fuels used to make everyday products like plastic containers and bags, automobile parts, lubricants, and soaps.
Image credit: John Beumer, NSF Center for Sustainable Polymers