Waste oil to long-chain dicarboxylic acids


Waste oil to long-chain dicarboxylic acids, full cSBO with with research partners UAntwerpen, UGent and VITO.

Long-chain aliphatic dicarboxylic acids (LCDAs) are versatile, biodegradable, chemical intermediates of different chain lengths (≥C12) and saturation, usable as precursors for high-grade polymers (PE, PA, PU), lubricants, hydrophobic coatings, corrosion inhibitors, perfumes, adhesives and macrolide antibiotics. The current global LCDAs market was 201.36 M$ in 2019 with an increase in the last three years and a broadcasted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% (DataHorizzon Research 2020). The EU market share is about 20%. 

Traditional fossil-based LCDAs are produced via expensive, harsh chemical processes that lead to unwanted side products and only short/medium-chain saturated DA products. Also, chemical processes to convert plant oils via metathesis into bio-based LCDAs have been implemented, with similar limitations or with the disadvantage of complex product mixtures in the case of the more recent self-metathesis. Biotechnological production proved to be a good alternative technology yielding a wider range of LCDA products with varying degrees of unsaturation, obtainable from fossil-based alkanes or plant-based fatty acids using microorganisms. However, biosynthesis of longer chains (≥C16) suffers from low performance (expensive substrates, low product concentrations, slow reaction rates, high viscosity, foaming), and costly downstream processing.

WODCA aims to tackle all limitations by applying lipid waste streams as a sustainable, low-cost feedstock for optimized biotransformation to existing and new value-added LCDA building blocks, tailored to selected applications (focus on C12, C16, C18). To this end, the project will apply robust newly engineered non-pathogenic microbial strains, advanced conversion technologies and downstream processing at a competitive price.

Project details

Project type
ESI Project
Research trajectory
Project status
Approved on
Project date
€2 503 577

Project Partners