Enzymatic Route for Production of 3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP)


Executive Summary

Most organic (carbon-containing) chemicals used today are derived from petroleum or natural gas. Increasingly, companies are looking for alternative carbon sources to meet a growing demands for sustainability. 3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is an intermediate that can be transformed into many important chemicals used in a variety of applications including coatings, printing and packaging, adhesives and fibers markets, yet no cost-effective route has been developed to date. MSU innovators have recently developed a new synthetic route to produce 3-HP using enzymes, with high product yield and selectivity. The route has an additional advantage in that the critical 3-HP precursor is formed from carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) which has the further benefit of reducing these harmful greenhouse gases.


Description of the Technology

This technology utilizes acetylene carboxylic acid (ACA) as a starting material for the process. Since ACA can be formed from methane and carbon dioxide, its use reduces greenhouse gases and carbon from the atmosphere. A novel enzyme is used to convert the ACA to malonate semialdehyde with high selectivity and efficient conversion (not seen before), which is subsequently converted to 3-HP in the process. The technology has been demonstrated at the laboratory phase with over 90% conversion of the ACA to 3-HP within 72 h at room temperature.



  • Uses non-petroleum starting material (ACA) which reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere
  • Biocatalytic process using enzymes
  • High conversion of ACA and selectivity to form 3-HP



  • Precursor for producing a range of chemicals including acrylic acid, acrylates, acrylonitrile, 1,3-propanediol, acrylamide


Patent Status

Published patent application


Licensing Rights

Full licensing rights available



ACS "Biochemistry" Article



Dr. Karen Draths, Dr. James Geiger, Dr. Hadi Nayebi Gavgani, Amaya Mathes Hewage




Patent Information:


For Information, Contact:

Jon Debling
Technology Manager
Michigan State University