Amino acids are the basis of life as we know it on Earth. They make up proteins, which provide structure to living organisms, as well as provide energy. They can be produced artificially at a very low cost, creating myriad business opportunities in many sectors. I don't know if the below processes are actually used. I thought these up using information gleaned from the reading of my chemistry textbook.

Example 1: Glycine

Glycine is the simplest amino acid. It can be produced from acetic acid, chlorine gas, and ammonia.

Step 1: Chlorine gas reacts with acetic acid to form chloroacetic acid. Hydrogen chloride is formed as a by-product.

CH3COOH + Cl2 ----> ClCH2COOH + HCl

Step 2: The chloroacetic acid reacts with ammonia to form glycine. Hydrogen chloride is again formed as a by-product.

ClCH2COOH + NH3 ----> CH2NH2COOH + HCl

To make a different amino acid, just substitute acetic acid with another organic acid. The rest of the process is exactly the same. If you make a combination of amino acids and heat them, there is a good chance you will end up with protocells. The above processes are probably the closest one can come to making life from simple household chemicals. (acetic acid is vinegar, ammonia is window cleaner, and chlorine can be made by mixing muriatic acid and household bleach together.)

Note: It was brought to my attention that artificial amino acids might have different chirality than their natural counterparts. This may be true (especially for the more complicated ones) but there is not much one can do about that (aside from nanotechnology), and I doubt it would make much of a difference.

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