Valorization of lignocellulosic biomass for the bioconversion of furan monomers  through novel biocatalytic enzymes

 

The continuously increasing energy need in modern societies, along with the depleting fossil fuel reserves, has made the emergence of a sustainable source imperative for the production of biofuels and chemicals. In this regard, lignocellulosic biomass, derived from agricultural and forestal residues, is an abundant renewable source of carbon, which also contributes to the reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions, without competing with the food industry. Our goal is  to produce furan monomers such as 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), 2-furancarboxylic acid  (FFA) and 2-furfurylamine (FFA) from lignocellulosic biomass by means of biocatalysis. However, the valorization of the lignocellulosic biomass includes several steps due to the complexity of the plant cell. The first step is the pretreatment process, which aims to increase the susceptibility of the material to hydrolysis. The second step is the hydrolysis process, where monomeric sugars are produced from the polysaccharides of cellulose and hemicellulose. In order to achieve the production of furan monomers, these sugars are converted to hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) through chemical catalysis and dehydration. Then, HMF functions as a substrate for novel biocatalysts such as oxidases, monoxygenases and transaminases generated through heterologous expression in our lab. The subsequent furan derivatives are considered high added value chemicals which can also be the precursors towards bio-based polymers.

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