Green Chemicals Co. , Ltd (GCC)

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  2. Green Chemicals Co. , Ltd (GCC)

About Green Phenol Development Co., Ltd. (GPD)

1. Green Phenol Technology Research Association
The Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and Sumitomo Bakelite Co., Ltd. founded Green Phenol Technology Research Association (GP Association) in February 2010. The purpose of this association was to develop technology for the production of "green" (environmentally friendly) phenol from mixed C5 and C6 sugars derived from non-food cellulosic biomass resources.

Because phenol itself is severely cytotoxic, phenol bioproduction was thought to be a challenging task. With the support of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), GP Association has succeeded in "green" phenol production by developing a two-step bioprocess that offers good prospects for achieving the economical production of "green" phenol from sugars, which was previously considered impossible. Substituting oil, the phenol raw material, with non-food cellulosic biomass has contributed toward the reduction of CO2 emissions and the increased use of "green" chemicals.

2. Organizational Change to Green Phenol Development Co., Ltd.
On May 27, 2014, GP Association changed its name to Green Phenol Development Co., Ltd. (GPD). This was the first case in Japan where a technology research association had altered the structure of its organization to a stock company. With the aid of a NEDO grant (FY 2014-FY 2017), GPD developed a research and development program to accelerate the industrialization of the biomass-based phenol-producing technology. In June 2016, facilities for the purification and concentration processes were constructed near the bioprocess pilot plant that enabled the integrated production of biomass-based phenol from non-food biomass-derived mixed sugars.

On June 2, 2016, the team of GPD, RITE, and Sumitomo Bakelite Co., Ltd. received the 15th Green and Sustainable Chemistry (GSC) Incentive Award from the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Network of the Japan Association for Chemical Innovation (JACI), for their development of a manufacturing process for biomass-based phenol.

3. Changed the name to Green Chemicals Co., Ltd.
Since the technology developed by GPD could produce many useful chemical compounds other than phenol, GPD changed its trade name to Green Chemicals Co., Ltd. on April 1, 2018, to expand the business to include these other chemical compounds.

Trade name Green Chemicals Co., Ltd.
Location 9-2, Kizugawadai, Kizugawa-Shi, Kyoto (inside RITE)
Representative Director Shigeru Hayashi (Representative Director & Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sumitomo Bakelite Co., Ltd.)
Business outline R&D, production, marketing, export, and import of chemical compounds developed using biorefinery technology to produce biofuels and biochemicals from non-food biomass

Strategy for the bioproduction of green phenol

“Two step bioprocess” for the economical production of green phenol

The main problem of phenol production by fermentation is the cytotoxicity. Therefore, high production of phenol by bioprocess has been believed to be extremely difficult. Our association overcame this problem by constructing a "two step bioprocess" described below.

1 The first reaction (high production of a precursor from sugars)

4-Hydroxybenzoate is a precursor candidate of phenol in the metabolic pathway of C. glutamicum, and the toxicity is relatively low compared to phenol. At the first bioprocess, a growth-arrested bioproduction enables to produce 4-hydroxybenzoate with high efficiency from mixed sugars (C5 and C6 sugars).

Growth-arrested bioprocess

Conventional bioprocesses

2. The second reaction (phenol production from the precursor)

4-Hydroxybenzoate is convertible to phenol in one step by decarboxylation reaction. We screened enzymes that catalyze decarboxylation of 4-hydroxybenzoate, and successfully obtained several genes encoding high efficient decarboxylases. We confirmed for the first time in the world that almost all 4-hydroxybenzoate was converted to phenol in short time by the second bioprocess using cells expressing the decarboxylases.

2. Application of green phenol

26% of phenol produced in the world is used to make phenolic resin and 50% of which is used to make bisphenol A. Green phenol produced by GPD will be used in the same application.

1.Phenolic resin

Phenolic resin is formed by an addition polymerization reaction of phenol and formaldehyde. It has various uses such as adhesives or structural parts. In automobile, it is used for motor brush holders, slip rings, cooling pump parts, clutch pistons, insulation gaskets, oil caps and brake pistons etc. Nowadays, phenolic resin becomes the materials which are indispensable for automobile-related products.
In the near future, weight-saving of automobiles is an urgent issue in relation to the emergence of hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles. It is expected that the demand of phenolic resin as a substitute for metal components will increase.

2.Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A also has wide-range of uses as a building block of polycarbonate (housewares, electronics, medical equipments, cellular phones, automobile parts, optical media, sheets or windows) or epoxy resin (coatings, lamination, encapsulating material for semiconductors or adhesives).).

Phenolic resin is an essential material for automobile parts.