Chemistry goes greener: Biocatalytic approaches for fine chemicals and polymers

Boeriu, C. (Invited speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkAcademic


Invited talk, abstract and conference paper
The production of value-added chemicals and materials, from food ingredients to pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cleaning agents, plastics and fuels, would be impossible without the chemical industry. Although still associated in the public mind with pollution and high environmental burden caused by plastic packaging accumulation in landfills, significant progress was achieved in the past decades toward greening chemical processes, aiming to maximize efficiency and reduce hazardous effects on human health and environment. New concepts that assign value to maximization of resource and energy efficiency, elimination of waste and avoidance of the use of toxic and/or hazardous materials are now recognized. Biocatalysis is a green and sustainable technology that fulfils entirely the criteria of green chemistry and sustainable development, and can play a major role in the development of green and benign chemical transformations that are more sustainable compared to routine chemical synthetic routes. Advances in molecular biology, protein engineering, biocatalysis engineering and enzyme immobilization enabled the optimization of existing enzymes, the invention of new non-natural biocatalytic reactions and the improvement of efficiency and cost effectiveness and, hence, the sustainability of biocatalytic reactions. All together, these trends are strengthening the translation of biocatalysis research work into industrial application, in both the fine chemicals and commodity sectors.
These concepts will be illustrated in this paper with concrete examples obtained in our group on the (a) one-step biocatalytic synthesis of biobased monomers (e.g. valerolactam and furan-based monomers), (b) integrated two-step biocatalytic-chemocatalytic reactions for synthesis of biobased polymers, with emphasis on furan-based polyesters, (c) three-step biocatalytic cascade reaction for synthesis of estolides from vegetable oils and (d) one-step enzymatic functionalization of biopolymers for the synthesis of self-assembling stimuli-responsive hydrogels. A critical analysis of the benefits and limitations of the biocatalytic reactions as compared to the classical chemical routes applied will be presented.
Period5 Jun 20197 Jun 2019
Event title12<sup>th</sup> International Symposium of the Romanian Catalysis Society
Event typeConference
LocationBucharest, Romania
Degree of RecognitionInternational