Wednesday, July 21, 2010
No. 109: Producing phenol from nonfood crops like rice straw (July 22, 2010)
Sumitomo Bakelite will start to conduct research on producing phenol from nonfood crops like rice straw and cornstalk in alliance with Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE). The two organizations will build a pilot plant in three years to see the quality and the mass productivity of the new product. The basic technology developed by RITE will be used for the development. RITE incorporated several tens of genes into the coryneform group and improved enzymes created by fungus considerably. It has already located the reaction pathway to dissolve nonfood crops and collect the sugar group for the production of phenol. Because phenol has a complicated molecular architecture with circular configuration, it is rather hard to produce fungus. However, it is expected to process the sugar group to phenol in one operation with the help of large amount genetically-engineered fungus. The world phenol market is estimated at more than 1,000 billion yen.