2019-2020 Catalog

CHEM 330 Biocatalysis and Biotechnology

While the revolutionary contributions of the chemical industry to society are undeniable, alternatives to traditional approaches in synthesis and catalysis are being demanded as concerns over pollution, toxicity, and sustainability are increasingly being recognized. As a result, chemists have turned to the biological world for "green" solutions to these problems. The course will explore how microbes and enzymes are being exploited by the chemical industry for myriad processes, including the synthesis of pharmaceutical compounds, water treatment and purification, and for the generation of hydrogen as a source of clean fuels. The first part of the course will examine several industrial processes that have been using enzymes for decades to produce the final commercial product. Emphasis will be placed on the technical challenges required for large-scale production of the compound. Course content will then shift to the academic arena, exploring current processes that the chemical industry wishes to replace with biologically-based systems. The challenges associated with scaling-up these processes will be emphasized, drawing on the foundation laid in the first part of the course. Finally, based on these lectures, students will be asked to take a "dirty" chemical process and propose a "green" solution, and identify the technical challenges that must be surmounted. An important aspect of the project will be exploring the economical feasibility, as well as potential obstacles related to governmental policies.


2 units


CHEM 300