“At WUR, we are developing a system for the conversion of CO2 and ethanol to L-lactic acid based on a number of sequential enzymatic conversion steps” Interview with Wageningen University & Research
Tom Ewing, Scientist at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) speaks in this interview about their role and challenges within the CATCO2NVERS project.
What is the role of Wageningen University & Research in CATCO2NVERS?
The role of Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in CATCO2NVERS is to develop a biocatalytic system for the production of L-lactic acid from biomass-derived CO2 streams and ethanol. L-lactic acid is the building block for the renewable and biodegradable polymer poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) and is also used as an ingredient in cosmetics. WUR will lead WP3, which focuses on the development of the biocatalytic reaction system. WUR also has a technical role in WP1, related to the purification of the CO2-rich gasses, and WP5, related to upscaling the L-lactic acid production.
How is Wageningen University & Research managing the biocatalytic conversion of CO2 to lactic acid?
At WUR, we are developing a system for the conversion of CO2 and ethanol to L-lactic acid based on a number of sequential enzymatic conversion steps. The envisioned enzymatic conversions take place under mild reaction conditions and are highly selective for the production of L-lactic acid. We will work together with CATCO2NVERS partner Johnson Matthey to produce and develop enzymes for application in the reaction system and with EMI-TWENTE for the development of downstream processing technologies to isolate L-lactic acid from the reaction mixtures.
What are the main challenges?
A major challenge is to develop a highly productive reaction system for the biocatalytic synthesis of L-lactic acid. We aim to overcome this challenge by developing a novel reaction system that will allow us to efficiently drive the process towards the production of L-lactic acid. For example, we aim to combine enzymatic and chemical catalysis to develop innovative methods for the regeneration of cofactors used by the enzymes in the reaction system, enabling efficient production of L-lactic acid.