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The Research Results of Hubei University for Green Synthesis of Nylon were Included in the National Science and Technology Innovation Achievements Exhibition of the 13th Five-Year Plan

November 16, 2021

The National “13th Five-Year” Science and Technology Innovation Achievement Exhibition was held in Beijing, and “Innovation of Adipic Acid Synthesis Strategy for Nylon Monomer”, chaired by Professor Li Aitao, State Key Laboratory of Biocatalysis and Enzyme Engineering, co-constructed by Hubei University Provincial Department, was attended.

As the first synthetic fiber in the world, nylon is used in many important fields related to national economy and people’s livelihood. As an important monomer for the synthesis of nylon 66, the industrial synthesis of adipic acid mainly relies on two-step chemical oxidation with high energy consumption and high pollution, resulting in serious environmental problems. Therefore, many researchers have been exploring new synthetic methods and processes for this compound material for decades. Professor Li Aitao’s team designed an artificial synthetic system that can catalyze the synthesis of cyclohexane to nylon 66 monomer adipic acid, and found a new method for green preparation of nylon monomer.

In this system, eight kinds of enzymes in the whole biosynthesis pathway were implanted into Escherichia coli by using the modular and microbial community catalytic strategy and the “plug and play” assembly strategy, and the catalytic reaction was completed with the help of the internal cofactors and their circulation system. Finally, the efficient bioconversion of cyclohexane or cyclohexanol to adipic acid was realized. The catalytic reaction was carried out at room temperature, atmospheric pressure and mild conditions of water phase. Under that condition, the operation was simple, the cost was low and the universality was strong. This artificial biosynthesis system laid an important foundation for the large-scale synthesis of α, ω-dicarboxylic acids by biological method, and provided a new idea for the synthesis of nylon monomers by virtue of its high efficiency and green advantages.

Professor Li Aitao is currently the deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of Biocatalysis and Enzyme Engineering jointly established by the provincial department of Hubei University, and the director of the Demonstration Base of Biocatalysis and Enzyme Engineering Technology in Hubei Province. He has been leading the team in the exploration and transformation of new enzyme resources and its application in the biosynthesis of functional chemicals. Over the past five years, 20 high-level articles have been published in international authoritative journals such as Nature Commun., Angew.Chem.Int.Ed., ACS Catal. and Green Chem. and funded by projects such as the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Key R & D Program, the National Natural Science Foundation Project and the Youth Project.

It is reported that the National “13th Five-Year” Science and Technology Innovation Achievements Exhibition takes “innovation-driven development and moving towards a strong country with science and technology” as the theme, comprehensively demonstrating the major decision-making and deployment of China’s implementation of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on science and technology work during the “13th Five-Year” period, and deeply implementing the innovation-driven development strategy and building an innovative country. A total of 12 exhibition areas, including the centennial review, basic research, high-tech, major projects, agricultural science and technology, social development, regional innovation, open cooperation, science and technology exhibition areas, showing more than 1300 physical objects, more than 200 models.