APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Paper and pulp industry
- Production of sodium percarbonate and sodium perborate for laundry detergent
- Production of propylene oxide
- Waste water treatment industry
- Requires less capital-intensive equipment
- Cost competitive at scale
Hydrogen peroxide is a commodity chemical produced at 4.5 billion kilos per year via the anthraquinone process, which requires large capital-intensive facilities to produce hydrogen peroxide economically. To address this issue, researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a novel hydrogen peroxide-yielding process that should ultimately enable its production on site with less capital-intensive equipment.
The invention involves a two enzyme pathway for the conversion of methanol into hydrogen peroxide and carbon dioxide. One enzyme uses a cofactor to oxidize methanol to formaldehyde – with hydrogen peroxide being released in the process – and both enzymes can convert formaldehyde to formate by the same mechanisms to yield hydrogen peroxide. Subsequently, the other enzyme converts formate into carbon dioxide and releases hydrogen peroxide. Formaldehyde dismutase, an enzyme that converts formaldehyde into methanol and formate, can be added to the process. This may be advantageous at high substrate concentrations; since the two enzymes of the pathway did not evolve specifically to use formaldehyde as a substrate, formaldehyde dismutase may help keep a low formaldehyde concentration without affecting the stoichiometry of the process.
Since this invention should enable the economic production of hydrogen peroxide in smaller batches on site for hydrogen peroxide consumers, it overcomes the limitations of the anthraquinone process. Specifically, it eliminates the need for customers to ship hydrogen peroxide long distances and store it on site, which is expensive as well as potentially dangerous due to its chemical instability. This promising technology also uses a cheaper feedstock, which should make it cost competitive at scale. Most ideally, it will provide a foundation for building a product for customers who need medium volumes of hydrogen peroxide in remote locations.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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