Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Production of 1,3-propanediol from glycerol surpluses

Due to increased production of plant oils in developing countries and the larger use by the oleochemical industry, glycerol surpluses are on the world market, which led to a continuous decrease in glycerol prices. A biotechnological process is being developed to produce 1,3-propanediol (PD) from glycerol by Clostridium butyricum, a harmless microorganism that is widely disseminated in nature. Until now, PD is produced only in negligible amounts due to its high price, however it is a useful component for all types of polycondensates : polyethers, polyesters polyurethanes and additionally can be used as a solvent and chemical intermediate for various compounds. The chemical synthesis of 1,3PD is difficult and costly on the other hand, the microbial conversion of glycerol to 1 3-PD is relatively simple and can lead to a decrease in prices. Natural plastics based on 1,3-PD are expected to be light-insensitive and more biodegradable in comparison to fully synthetic polymers. The metabolism of Clostridium butyricum was studied in batch culture and in chemostat culture using either glucose or glycerol. Technology and expertise developed on the use of Clostridium butyricum will be used to promote technological development and to generate strains with improved fermentation characteristics.

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Henri PETITDEMANGE
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