Biobased adipic acid – The challenge of developing the production host
Journal article, 2018
Adipic acid is a platform chemical, and is the most important commercial dicarboxylic acid. It has been targeted for biochemical conversion as an alternative to present chemical production routes. From the perspective of bioeconomy, several kinds of raw material are of interest including the sugar platform (derived from starch, cellulose or hemicellulose), the lignin platform (aromatics) and the fatty acid platform (lipid derived). Two main biochemical-based production schemes may be employed: (i) direct fermentation to adipic acid, or (ii) fermentation to muconic or glucaric acid, followed by chemical hydrogenation (indirect fermentation). This review presents a comprehensive description of the metabolic pathways that could be constructed and analyzes their respective theoretical yields and metabolic constraints. The experimental yields and titers obtained so far are low, with the exception of processes based on palm oil and glycerol, which have been reported to yield up to 50 g and 68 g adipic acid/L, respectively. The challenges that remain to be addressed in order to achieve industrially relevant production levels include solving redox constraints, and identifying and/or engineering enzymes for parts of the metabolic pathways that have yet to be metabolically demonstrated. This review provides new insights into ways in which metabolic pathways can be constructed to achieve efficient adipic acid production. The production host provides the chassis to be engineered via an appropriate metabolic pathway, and should also have properties suitable for the industrial production of adipic acid. An acidic process pH is attractive to reduce the cost of downstream processing. The production host should exhibit high tolerance to complex raw material streams and high adipic acid concentrations at acidic pH.