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Manchester at the forefront of Green Chemical Technology

25 Aug 2011

The University of Manchester is leading a £6.5m European project to develop the next generation of green chemical processes.

Press photo: BASF

BIONEXGEN (Developing the Next Generation of Biocatalysts for Industrial Chemical Synthesis) is an ambitious European research programme that will develop the next generation of biocatalysts to be used for eco-efficient manufacturing processes in the chemical industry.

This three-year European Union funded project is led by Professor Nick Turner, Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biocatalysis, Biotransformations and Biocatalytic Manufacture (CoEBio3) at The University of Manchester.

A collaboration by leading European industrial and academic partners has identified a new generation of biocatalysts that, once developed, could lead to economic and environmental improvements in the manufacture of everyday chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and polymers.

Biocatalysts are enzymes, or microbial cells containing enzymes, that can carry out chemical reactions. Routes to specialised, high-value products often require long chemical synthetic routes involving complex reaction steps with toxic side products and waste streams. This project will allow these methods to be replaced by clean biocatalysis routes using renewable resources.

This interdisciplinary project will bring together microbiologists, enzymologists, chemists, engineers and process development scientists to enable industry to use biotechnology to replace fossil fuel derived manufacturing methods.

The consortium consists of University research groups, small and medium sized companies, and BASF, the world’s leading chemical company.

Professor Nick Turner said: “I warmly welcome all the partners to the programme and look forward to collaborating with them in this exciting field of interdisciplinary science. The research was devised with the close involvement of industrial partners; this is a great strength of the programme and will ensure real-world application of the green chemical processes developed.”