Expanding the industrial use of Robust Oxidative Biocatalysts for the conversion and production of alcohols


The project aims to develop sustainable biological and chemical alternatives to support innovative bio-catalytic oxidation routes using molecular oxygen under benign conditions such as mild pH and ambient temperature and pressure. These developments will have several environmental and safety advantages over traditional chemical manufacturing methods.


Oxygen functionalities are key functional groups in many of today’s chemicals and materials. The efficient introductions of oxygen-functionalities into raw materials are key chemical transformations in bulk and fine chemicals. Innovative bio-catalytic oxidation routes using molecular oxygen (from air) under benign and mild (pH) conditions such as ambient temperature and pressure can greatly improve the sustainability and economics of processes, but are so far mainly been applied in the pharma segments. In this segment, the enzyme-catalyzed step often represents the highest added value and the high price of the end-product (> €1000/kg) justifies less than optimal enzyme production and limitations in its catalytic efficiency. In order to achieve the widening of industrial application of enzymatic bio-oxidation processes to also larger volume but lower price chemical markets, ROBOX will demonstrate the techno-economic viability of bio-transformations of four types of robust oxidative enzymes: P450 monooxygenases (P450s), Baeyer-Villiger MonoOxygenase (BVMOs), Alcohol DeHydrogenase (ADH) and Alcohol OXidase (AOX) for which target reactions have already been validated on lab-scale in pharma, nutrition, fine & specialty chemicals and materials applications.

The project

The EU-funded ROBOX project brings together partners from across Europe, including the companies ACIB, c-LEcta, Chemstream, Evocatal, Lentikat’s, DuPont, DSM and Givaudan, with researchers from TU Graz, University of Groningen, Università di Pavia, RWTH Aachen University, University of Manchester, Fraunhofer IME, Universtitat Autònoma de Barcelona, ETH Zurich, Maastricht University and DTU. The consortium aims to provide biocatalytic alternatives to traditional process chemistry, based on probably the three most important types of enzymatic oxidations (alcohol oxidation, C-H activation and lactonization by monooxygenases) with reduced environmental footprint. This will be done by the development and demonstration of industrially relevant reactions catalyzed by representatives of four different types of oxidative enzymes. Parallel to this, the corresponding experimental and computational methods will be consolidated into a generic platform of technologies for fast and accurate enzyme activity determination required for enzyme optimization, production and application in a biocatalytic process. This approach will enable the design of highly efficient biocatalysts with an adapted range of substrates of immediate relevance for industrially important conversions.

The research for this work has received funding from the European Union (EU) project ROBOX (grant agreement n° 635734) under EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme Research and Innovation actions H2020-LEIT BIO-2014-1

For more information please visit the ROBOX project website.


John Woodley
DTU Kemiteknik
45 25 28 85