Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2008
Publication Date: 11/30/2008
Citation: Hou, C.T. 2008. Oil biotechnology: Past, present and future prospects [abstract]. Oil Technologist's Association of India. S-16.
Technical Abstract: Biocatalysts for both petroleum oil and vegetable oils are quite similar. In 1970, scientists focused on converting petroleum products to value-added oxygenated products such as alcohols, ketones, epoxids and acids. The biocatalysts involved in these reactions are metal containing oxygenases. After the 1980s, the interest shifted to environmental problems. Genetic engineering techniques were introduced in the late 1980s to improve biocatalysts. The U.S. has a large amount of surplus soybean oil annually, and using vegetable oils or their component fatty acids as starting material provides a new opportunity in bioindustry. From the 1980s, scientists have been trying to find new uses for surplus vegetable oils by converting them to value-added products such as oxygenated fatty acids and bioactive fatty acids. The biocatalysts that work on vegetable oils are also oxygenases. One additional biocatalyst is lipase in vegetable oil biocatalysis. Oxygenated fatty acids can be used as starting materials for specialty chemicals, and biomedical products. Genetic engineering techniques were also introduced into vegetable oils biocatalysis. Due to the recent energy crisis, bioenergy such as ethanol and biodiesel have become the focus of biocatalysis research. Finding new uses for bioglycerin, a co-product of biodiesel production, has become an important bioenergy research area.