Project leaders: Kit Lau, BioAmber (receptor); Radhakrishnan Mahadevan, University of Toronto (academic)
Genome Centre: Ontario Genomics
Total funding: $5.7 million
Currently, nylon is made from petroleum. While the process works well, it is not as environmentally friendly as many would like. There is strong demand for nylon produced using man-made chemicals derived from sugar, which requires less energy and results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
BioAmber, an industrial biotechnology company located in Sarnia, Ontario, is successfully manufacturing succinic acid (used in producing polymers, resins and solvents) from sugar streams, which materially decreases the carbon footprint. These same principles could be used to develop a process for the manufacture of adipic acid, used in producing nylon.
A genomics-driven bioengineering approach has been developed by the University of Toronto’s team at BioZone led by Dr. Radhakrishnan Mahadevan to convert sugars into value-added industrial chemicals such as adipic acid. Adipic acid alone has a market of 2.2 million tonnes; chemicals that can be derived from it have similarly large markets. As an industrial biotechnology company, BioAmber is positioned to apply the results from this research program to the development of next generation chemicals.
The results of its work will benefit Canada’s economy by growing the biorefining industry and creating new manufacturing jobs, while protecting the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.