Industrial CO2 usage breakthrough

Professor Arne Skerra of the Technical University of Munich (TUM)  is successful for the first time by using gaseous CO2 as a general material for the chemical production of a mass product in a biotechnical reaction. This product is methionine; it is used as a vital amino acid, in animal feed on a widespread basis. The result has been published in the nature catalysis journal. 

The production of methionine from petrochemical is presently done through a six-step process of chemical that requires high toxic hydrogen cyanide. In the year 2013, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of methionine Evonik industries invited the university researchers to present a new process for making the substance safe to produce. Methional occurs in nature that is formed as facile at the time of the conventional process.  

Professor Arne Skerra from the Department of Biological Chemistry at TUM, explains that the idea based on methionine in microorganisms is degraded by enzymes to methional. This released CO2 and they try to reverse this method. He said, because of every chemical reaction in the reversible principal during the wide use of energy pressure. 

Skerra participated in this idea and Evonik awarded the supported project. Researcher Lukas Eisoldt, Skerra started to determine the limitations for the manufacturing process and producing essential biocatalysts ( enzymes). The scientists performed early experiments and determined the CO2 pressure that would be essential to produce methionine from methional in the biocatalytic method. 

Supported by postdoctoral researcher Lukas Eisoldt, Skerra began to determine the parameters for the manufacturing process and for producing the necessary biocatalysts (enzymes). The scientists conducted initial experiments and determined the CO2 pressure which would be needed to produce methionine from methional in a biocatalytic process.

The high-frequency result at a low pressure corresponding to the one entire tire of two bars. Based on this experiment the team reinforced by the Ph.D. student Julia Martin experimented with the biochemical background that is optimized for the enzymes included using protein engineering. After some years of work, it is possible to improve the reaction in the laboratory and could give 40% of the biochemical process on the theoretical background.

Arne Skerra reported that if compared to the photosynthesis, that’s nature is bio catalytically includes CO2 into biomolecules as a building block. Their method is simple and elegant.  Photosynthesis uses 14 enzymes during the process only two enzymes requires. This is the first time that the biotechnological manufacturing uses CO2.