(13d) Autocatalytic Cycle for Greener Carbohydrate Synthesis

Clairmont, R., Georgia Institute of Technology
Bommarius, A. S., Georgia Institute of Technology
Krishnamurthy, R., NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution
Liotta, C. L., Georgia Institute of Technology
Weber, A., SETI Institute

Our group has begun modeling and experimental work investigating a new chemical process to produce short carbohydrates such as dihydroxyacetone (DHA).  Our research objective is to show sustained growth of a small molecule catalyst necessary for carbohydrate production.  The idea is analogous to autocatalytic amplification, but using a two-step synthesis procedure rather than templating.

The process is broken into three parts: reaction 1, reaction 2, and separation 1.  After separation 1, isolated catalyst is reintroduced in reaction 1 and the process scaled to optimize conversion to DHA.  A kinetic model has been developed using lumped kinetic parameters obtained from batch experiments.  Data from our model indicates catalyst selectivity and separation efficiency are key parameters for controlling process outcome.  Using our best catalyst to date, predicted separation efficiency would need to be at least 80% for the process to show positive growth.  Using an average catalyst increases predicted efficiency to 95%.  Reaction products are analyzed using a combination of LCMS and NMR to identify catalytic species and carbohydrates respectively.