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W-BioCat ( is a new consortium of leading labs and SMEs supported by the European Innovation Council to transform chemical #catalysis.

The chemical industry is dominated by polluting and energy-intensive processes. By contrast, nature provides us with myriads of cheap and powerful catalysts for a wide range of desirable transformations. The problem is that many of these natural catalysts — known as #enzymes — are not suitable for work in research labs or industrial settings.

The W-BioCat project will take on a chemical-production challenge that currently can only be addressed with significant energy and waste: the reduction of carboxylic acids. A group of unique enzymes that contain the heavy metal element tungsten (W) can perform this important reaction but are difficult to produce on a suitable scale. Our team at Delft University of Technology, led by Peter-Leon Hagedoorn, Caroline Paul, and Frank Hollman, will address the challenges for the scalable production of W-enzymes. Together with bioinformatics input from Claudia Andreini of University of Florence we will identify key enzymes that are necessary for economical and low-waste transformation of carboxylic acids. Together with our partners Kylie Vincent Oxford University and the company Hydregen, we will explore possibilities for a biocatalytic H2-driven reduction process as a sustainable alternative for current chemocatalytic approaches. And with our partners in Sarel Fleishman’s lab at Weizmann and enzyme engineering expertise from the company Evoenzyme, will optimize these enzymes’ activity and production yields to demonstrate preparative-scale production of valuable aldehydes and alcohols for the #cosmetics, #flavor, and #fragrance industries. The European companies ChainCraft, Axxence, and Evonik will advise the consortium on the path to the commercialization of our innovations.

Stay tuned to hear more about how our consortium combines cutting-edge methods in #bioinformatics, #AI-assisted #proteinengineering, and #tungstenzymes to develop a new vision for #sustainable chemical production.

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