The team from the University of Manchester, is being led by DSM Chemical Technology R&D BV as part of the Horizon 2020 EU project, ROBOX, to produce chemicals for the perfume and food industry that are more environmentally friendly.
The result will see safer and more effective chemicals developed for the perfume industry and flavourings for the food industry; and University of Manchester academics are also leading research into drug metabolism as part of the project.
As mentioned, it is part of the £8.5m Horizon 2020 EU project, ROBOX, which is a partnership of companies and universities from across Europe.
Under the project’s guidelines, they will develop sustainable alternatives to industrial oxidation utilising innovative biocatalysts and just air in a safe and green way that is not currently available to the industry.
The team claims these developments will have several environmental and safety advantages over conventional chemical manufacturing methods presently applied in industry.
Chemical oxidations are hazardous processes using the worst chemicals, toxic metals and very environmentally damaging solvents.
The researchers say that it is one of the dirtiest aspects of chemical manufacturing and biocatalysis not only offers cleaner production methods but can also deliver improved products.
Developing better drugs
Professor Nicholas Turner from The University of Manchester will also lead the initiative for the use of these novel techniques to produce drug metabolites that will be used to make new drugs better and safer.
“A lot of the processes we use currently are expensive and not very cost effective. This is a unique opportunity for academic groups to work alongside chemical companies and specialist SMEs to develop innovative biocatalytic processes for applying oxidation for chemical synthesis,” he says.
“We believe that challenging problems of this nature are best solved on a pan-European basis by bringing together under one roof the combined expertise of many groups to establish a world-class research hub in biocatalysis and sustainable chemical synthesis.”