The State of Hawaii recently passed legislation to assist in funding a project that converts crops, crop residues, dedicated energy crops, and agricultural waste into biofuels and value-added co-products. Hawaii’s Department of Budget and Finance is now authorized, with the approval of Governor Neil Abercrombie, to issue special purpose revenue bonds in an amount not to exceed $50,000,000 for the purpose of planning, permitting, design, construction, equipping, and operating BioTork Hawaii LLC’s commercial facilities.
BioTork’s bioconversion development efforts in Hawaii date back to 2010 when it launched proof of principle research for its technology. Using a proprietary evolutionary optimization approach, BioTork enhances the performance of non-GMO microorganisms under real-world industrial conditions in what it says is a cost-efficient way. The conversion process takes a few days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment—i.e., no sunlight is needed—to create oil for biofuel and high-protein feed.
Basing its efforts on the requirements of the “Hawaii Zero Waste Program”, BioTork entered into collaboration with the Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (DKI-PBARC). Since that time the State of Hawaii, recognizing the progress and potential global impact of this project, committed $4,800,000 in research, development and capital improvement funding through a contract with DKI-PBARC to focus on BioTork’s evolution technology.
Some of these funds have been committed through the state’s barrel tax allocations, which target energy and food security initiatives. Other funds have been appropriated through legislative capital improvement program allocations.
With the additional support of special purpose revenue bond funding, BioTork Hawaii LLC will be able to fuel the third step of its development program. This would involve scaling up to build and operate commercial facilities that will have the capacity to convert agricultural crops and by-products such as albizia, sweet potatoes, papaya, sugarcane bagasse, glycerol and molasses to biofuels and high-protein feed.
BioTork Hawaii LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of BioTork LLC, a biotechnology company. BioTork Hawaii LLC and BioTork LLC are both based in Gainesville, FL. BioTork develops microbial strains capable of converting low-value abundant biomass streams into high bio-based chemical commodities.