A facile process for adipic acid production in high yield by oxidation of 1,6-hexanediol using the resting cells of Gluconobacter oxydans

Sang Hyun Pyo, Mahmoud Sayed, Oliver Englund Örn, Jorge Amorrortu Gallo, Nídia Fernandez Ros, Rajni Hatti-Kaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adipic acid (AA) is one of the most important industrial chemicals used mainly for the production of Nylon 6,6 but also for making polyurethanes, plasticizers, and unsaturated polyester resins, and more recently as a component in the biodegradable polyester poly(butylene adipate terephthalate) (PBAT). The main route for AA production utilizes benzene as feedstock and generates copious amounts of the greenhouse gas NO2. Hence, alternative clean production routes for AA from renewable bio-based feedstock are drawing increasing attention. We have earlier reported the potential of Gluconobacter oxydans cells to oxidize 1,6-hexanediol, a potentially biobased diol to AA. Results: The present report involves a study on the effect of different parameters on the microbial transformation of 1,6-hexanediol to adipic acid, and subsequently testing the process on a larger lab scale for achieving maximal conversion and yield. Comparison of three wild-type strains of G. oxydans DSM50049, DSM2003, and DSM2343 for the whole-cell biotransformation of 10 g/L 1,6-hexanediol to adipic acid in batch mode at pH 7 and 30 °C led to the selection of G. oxydans DSM50049, which showed 100% conversion of the substrate with over 99% yield of adipic acid in 30 h. An increase in the concentrations of the substrate decreased the degree of conversion, while the product up to 25 g/L in batch and 40 g/L in fed-batch showed no inhibition on the conversion. Moreover, controlling the pH of the reaction at 5–5.5 was required for the cascade oxidation reactions to work. Cell recycling for the biotransformation resulted in a significant decrease in activity during the third cycle. Meanwhile, the fed-batch mode of transformation by intermittent addition of 1,6-hexanediol (30 g in total) in 1 L scale resulted in complete conversion with over 99% yield of adipic acid (approximately 37 g/L). The product was recovered in a pure form using downstream steps without the use of any solvent. Conclusion: A facile, efficient microbial process for oxidation of 1,6-hexanediol to adipic acid, having potential for scale up was demonstrated. The entire process is performed in aqueous medium at ambient temperatures with minimal greenhouse gas emissions. The enzymes involved in catalyzing the oxidation steps are currently being identified.

Original languageEnglish
Article number223
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Chemical Process Engineering

Free keywords

  • 1,6-hexanediol
  • Adipic acid
  • Gluconobacter oxidation
  • Polymer building block
  • Whole cell oxidation


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