3-Hydroxybutyrolactone is an organic solvent and is considered as a universal chiral building block used in synthesis of various pharmaceutical chemicals, solvent and polymers. Furthermore it also acts as a significant precursor for significant chiral drug such as cholesterol 90. Furthermore, 3-HBL is produced through the hydrolysis of butyrolactone with aqueous HCL (hydrochloric acid) and NaCl (sodium chloride).
3-Hydroxybutyrolactone is also is used for the synthesis of malic acid. There are multiple ways for the synthesis of 3-HBL other than the above mentioned. For a continuous commercial synthesis of 3-HBL, hydrogenation of malic acid over a ruthenium-based catalyst in a fixed-bed reactor is done.
Biosynthesis of the 3-HBL is expected to gain traction in the upcoming years owing to the hazardous synthesis procedure and the requirement of various expensive catalyst for the purification process. The other chemo enzymatic and chemical routes for the development of 3-HBL also faces the same issues. Hence, designing of a noble biosynthetic pathway was mandatory for the economic production of the product. Currently only one way of biosynthesis of 3-HBL from 3,4 dihydroxybutyric acid has been reported.
3-HBL is extensively used in pharmaceutical industry as a chiral building block in cholesterol reducing drug such as Lipitor and Crestor. Whereas, in antibiotic it is used in Zyvox, and the antihyperlipidemic medication. Some of the other chemicals derived from 3-HBL include nutritional supplement L-carnitine5 & HIV inhibitors. 3 HBL has been listed as the top value added chemical form biomass by the US Department of Energy.
During Covid-19 the market for 3- hydroxybutyrolactone was driven by increase in the production of medicines and growth in pharmaceutical industry. The 3HBL is basically used in the antiviral drug against HIV. Further, the lockdown resulted in the panic buying behaviour of by the people suffering from HIV. Which led to increase in the demand of 3HBL globally.
The market for the product is much consolidated owing to less number of players actively operating the HBL market. North America has the highest product demand owing large number of pharmaceutical/drug manufacturers in the region followed by Asia Pacific and Europe. The global key manufacturers of 3-Hydroxybutyrolactone include, Kalion, AB Enterprises, Shandong Zhouhe Chemical and Kaneka Corporation etc. In 2022, the global top five players hold a prominent share in terms of revenue.
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