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Bulk chemicals from biotechnology: the case of 1,3-propanediol production and the new trends.

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Biochemical Engineering Division, GBF-German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig.


The need for a sustainable resource supply, the rapid advances in plant biotechnology and microbial genetics and the strategic shift of major chemical companies into the area of life sciences are some of the driving forces for renewed interest in producing bulk chemicals from renewable resources by biological processes. The microbial production of 1,3-propanediol as briefly reviewed in this article and compared with the competing chemical processes demonstrates the promise and constraints of bioprocesses for bulk chemicals. The new concept of biorefinery and biocommodity engineering and future research needs in this area are also outlined.

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