Today, hydrogen peroxide is made by an energy-intensive process unchanged since the 1930s. It involves cycling an anthraquinone species in a flammable solvent between hydrogenation and oxidation reactors followed by liquid-liquid extraction, distillation, and further purification. Solugen’s innovation leverages a CRISPR/dCas9 system to efficiently produce a highly active, stable, and inexpensive oxidase enzyme with a novel GTL reactor design to overhaul hydrogen peroxide manufacturing for the 21st century. Sorbitol is currently manufactured at scale via the aqueous-phase hydrogenation of glucose using molecular hydrogen. Solugen is developing an engineered sorbitol oxidase enzyme that can selectively oxidize sorbitol back to glucose using oxygen, releasing hydrogen peroxide. In parallel, they are developing a coupled reactor/separator that maximizes gas transport, kinetics, and enzyme stability.
By coupling their technology with glucose-to-sorbitol hydrogenation processing, Solugen can replace the 20th century anthraquinone process with a safer, greener, purer, and less expensive 21st century process. They plan to implement this technology at scale and expand their CRISPR and reactor technologies to other enzymatic GTL opportunities.