By Cameron Chai
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has awarded two new patents to Metabolix, a provider of sustainable solutions to the energy, chemical and plasticsindustries for the new,efficient production of industrial chemicals and biobased polymers.
The patent 8,114,643 titled,‘Polyhydroxalkanoate Production from Polyols,’allows production of genetic constructs to create the biobased chemical 3-hydroxypropionic acidin crop plant systems. In addition, the patent demonstrates the use of polyols like sugars and glycerol as alternative renewable feedstocks. The 3-hydroxypropionic acid is suitable for manufacturing polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) polymers, as well as C3 chemicals, such as amines, esters, malonic acid and biobased acrylic acid. The patent 8,093,022 titled, ‘Polyhydroxalkanoate Biopolymer Compositions,’ is awarded to enable production of novel PHA biopolymer compositionsby utilizing genetically engineered microbial strains.
Oliver Peoples, chief scientific officer of the company, the patents define a process that allows them to develop plants and microbes to collect unique biobased PHA polymers and monomers within their cells. He added that the PHA polymers can later be extracted and utilized as bioplastics or can be converted into chemical intermediates using Metabolix's FAST recovery technology. The technology leads to direct manufacture of acrylic acid from the 3-hydoxypropionic acid polymer.
Metabolix is recently producing biobased industrial chemicals as substitutes for petroleum-based products. The company has manufactured biobased gamma-Butyrolactone, a C4 chemical, at semi-works scale and biobased acrylic acid, a C3 chemical, at commercial scale. C3 chemicals are ideal for application in adhesives, diapers, coatings and paints and C4 chemicals are suitable for applications, including high-performance engineering plastics and spandex.