Global Bioenergies has produced a proprietary prototype strain able to convert glucose into propylene at laboratory scale.
The company says it is the first time ever an entirely biological production process — without any chemical step — is reported for propylene, a central building block for plastics manufacturing.
More than 80 million metric tons of propylene are produced yearly, corresponding to a market exceeding 100 billion dollars, the second largest of the petrochemical industry after ethylene. Polypropylene for example accounts for more than half of the plastics used in a the car industry.
Propylene is so far only produced through fossil resources and principally obtained from naphtha cracking.
Thomas Buhl, head of business development at Global Bioenergies, says the decrease in naphtha cracking capacities has produced a need for alternative routes to light olefins, and in particular to propylene, such as this green technology process to biopropylene.
Earlier this year, Global Bioenergies and Audi teamed up to develop isobutene-derived isooctane, a high performance biofuel for gasoline engines. As a 100 percent drop-in fuel, isobutene-derived isooctane can be used in any blending ratio with all standard fuels for gasoline motors.