Improved Technology for Mannitol Production


Executive Summary


Industrialized production of mannitol for use as a food sweetener and various pharmaceutical applications is currently achieved by hydrogenation of a fructose/glucose syrup at high pressures and temperatures. The reaction produces a mixture of mannitol and sorbitol that is both inefficient (70% sorbitol as end-product) and requires a lengthy multi-step process to remove the metal catalyst used in production and to extract the mannitol. To combat these challenges, Michigan State University researchers have developed a new enzymatic technology that drastically reduces the cost and time for mannitol production. This novel method allows mannitol to be produced in an electrochemical bioreactor eliminating not only the sorbitol waste products but also the necessity for a metal catalyst and the costs associated with its removal. Ultimately, this technology can increase yield through improved efficiency and lower costs.


Description of Technology


This MSU technology is an enzymatic method of producing mannitol from a glucose or glucose/fructose mixture starting material using an electrochemical bioreactor. This method utilizes a thermostable recombinant enzyme of mannitol dehydrogenase derived from Thermotoga maritima, and is active up to 90°C. Using electrochemical recycling, it is capable of converting 100% glucose into 100% mannitol in a single electrochemical reactor system. Mobilization of enzymes in this reactor reduces the number of steps in the production process and diminishes the need for purification, particularly in a two-step reaction of glucose<fructose<mannitol.


Key Benefits

  • Lowers mannitol production costs
  • Eliminates unwanted sorbitol production
  • Reduces number of steps in the production process
  • Mannitol produced can be labeled as ‘natural’
  • Increased efficiency: one mole of mannitol produced per one mole of glucose



  • Industrial mannitol production, including:
  • Low-calorie sweeteners
  • Pharmaceutical formulating agent
  • Plastic manufacturing
  • Can be adapted for use with other dehyrdogenases for the synthesis of alcohols, production food, production of textiles, and medical tests.


Patent Status:


Patent issued. Serial no. 7,867,740


Licensing Rights Available:

Full licensing rights available.


Inventors: Claire Vieille, J. Gregory Zeikus, Seung Hoon Song


Tech ID: TEC2007-0020



Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University