Seed Fund: Structural Insights of Biohybrid Catalysts for Polylactide Synthesis

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Polylactic acid - PLA - is produced from sustainable resourcesand represents a promising and biodegradable alternative to petroleum-based polymers. Ring opening polymerization of D- and L-lactide to an isotactic stereoblock or stereocomplex PLA with a melting temperature above 200°C is highly desirable for example for production of PLA-fibres and -bottles and so far not achieved without significant waste production. Biohybrid catalysts is a rapidly emerging research field with the promise to expand the synthetic power of metal catalysts like ROP-metal catalysts which are anchored in a surrounding protein shell and in which control of chemo- and regioselectivity is achieved like in enzymes through space by specifically orienting substrates to the catalytic metal center. Prerequisite to efficiently design biohybrid catalysts are structural information of metal catalysts and its location in the protein shell. The BioCaPS seed fund project aimsto gain by crystallographic and NMR-analysis deep structural information on promising FhuA-hybrid catalysts harboring metal catalysts based on zinc and indium, for the steroselective production of polylactide acid. Being able to produce directly and selectively an isotactic PLA stereoblock would reduce large waste streams of atactic and heterotactic PLA and thereby contribute to a more sustainable and integrated bioeconomy.

The scientific activities of the Bioeconomy Science Center were financially supported by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Resesarch within the framework of the NRW Strategieprojekt BioSC (No. 313/323‐400‐002 13).