Circular Economy

In Japan produced biodegradable plastic from renewable and biomass

No more oil for the synthesis of fumaric acid, a key element of biodegradable plastic

A research group at Osaka Metropolitan University has made significant progress in the sustainable production of fumaric acid, a component of biodegradable plastic. Using bicarbonate, pyruvic acid and carbon dioxide, the researchers developed a new artificial photosynthesis technology.

The process is important because it doubles the yield of fumaric acid compared to previous methods. An innovative approach that promises to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and offer an efficient method for the production of biodegradable plastic. CO2 is combined in organic compounds to be used as raw materials, from which durable objects such as plastic ones can be obtained. Against a backdrop of growing concern about pollution and climate change, the work of Japanese scientists provides a glimmer of hope.

The second time is the good one

It is not the first time that the team, led by Professor Yutaka Amao, has succeeded in the synthesis of fumaric acid from bicarbonate, pyruvic acid and solar energy. In this new phase, however, the key is the introduction of a photosensitizer of an improved artificial photosynthesis technique. With these measures, the yield of fumaric acid production has significantly improved compared to conventional methods.

Traditionally derived from oil, this component has instead been efficiently produced using renewable resources and biomass. Fumaric acid is in fact also present in nature in fruits and vegetables. It has been isolated in the roots of the wild herbaceous plant Fumaria officinalis, from which the name derives. Scientists speak of a “crucial step towards the synthesis of fumaric acid from clean energy sources with higher yields“.

Published in Dalton Transactions, the study is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, which provides grants to pioneering research projects, with the idea of supporting social development through innovation.

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