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Scientists develop new method to produce TPA

All News 12:00 June 04, 2017

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean scientists have developed a new method to chemically produce terephthalic acid (TPA), which is largely used for polyethylene terephthalate, the science ministry said Sunday, a development that could be a boon in the mass production of next-generation industrial plastic.

TPA is a large-volume commodity chemical used principally as a monomer precursor in the manufacture of polyethylene terephthalate, which finds a broad range of applications in making beverage containers, films, and other applications. TPA is an important industrial chemical currently produced by the energy intensive and potentially hazardous p-xylene (pX) oxidation process.

The team, led by Lee Sang-yeob at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), successfully designed a synthetic metabolic pathway converting pX to TPA, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.

"Here we report the development of a metabolically engineered Escherichia coli system for biological transformation of pX into TPA," the researchers said in a paper.

"In this study, we report a biocatalytic process for the oxidation of pX to TPA by developing a metabolically engineered E. coli strain harbouring a synthetically designed pathway," the paper continued.

Their findings were published in the latest edition of the journal "Nature Communications."

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