1,3,5-Trioxane is synthesized under acidic conditions from formaldehyde which can be obtained via methane, methanol and syngas.
The chemical production of trioxane from formaldehyde is mainly directed towards the manufacturing of polyoxymethylene (POM) which is an important engineering thermoplastic with a large number of applications in the automotive and mechanical engineering industries at more than 500.000 tons per year.
It is a prerequisite that trioxane in POM synthesis is free of water and ultra-clean. These criteria obviously do not apply to trioxane as fermentation feedstock. Consequently, the manufacturing cost of trioxane for biotechnological purposes will be relatively cheap, since in this instance downstream processing will be more straightforward.
The group of Prof. Hans Hasse at the University of Kaiserslautern (see PDF-file) in a collaborative project is evaluating a concept for a new process for trioxane production as adapted to the requirements of its use as a fermentation feedstock. An important aspect of this exercise is that the economics of this process are such that it can compete with the price of regular sugar as feedstock.