[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
Univ. of Exeter team engineers unique biological pathway for the production of diesel range hydrocarbons by E. coli
April 23, 2013
A team from the University of Exeter (UK), with support from Shell Technology Centre Thorton, has modified strains of E. coli bacteria to produce “petroleum-replica” hydrocarbons in the diesel range. While the technology still faces many significant commercialization challenges, the resulting drop-in fuel is almost identical to conventional diesel fuel and so does not need to be blended with petroleum products as is often required by biodiesels derived from plant oils.
In an open access paper on their work published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, the researchers note that their work—rather than reconstituting existing metabolic routes to alkane production found in nature—demonstrated the ability to design and to implement artificial molecular pathways for the production of renewable, industrially relevant fuel molecules.
DOE awards $10 million to 5 projects for advanced biofuels and bio-based products
January 03, 2013
The US Department of Energy announced more than $10 million in funding to five new projects that will develop new synthetic biological and chemical techniques to convert biomass into advanced biofuels and bioproducts such as plastics and chemical intermediates.
Two of these projects will develop cost-effective ways to produce intermediates from the deconstruction of lignocellulosic biomass, while three projects will propose new conversion techniques to transform biomass intermediates into advanced biofuels and bioproducts.
Proterro secures $3.5M in new funding to advance its noncellulosic sucrose for biofuels and biobased chemicals; progress on patent on sucrose-producing cyanobacteria
December 18, 2012
|Proterro engineered cyanobacteria for continuous high-yield production of sucrose, which can then be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals. Source: Proterro. Click to enlarge.|
Proterro, Inc.—the only company making sugar instead of extracting it from crops—has closed on a $3.5-million financing round led by current investor Braemar Energy Ventures. Proterro has engineered cyanobacteria (from the group consisting of Synechococcus and Synechocystis) that naturally produce only sucrose to secrete the sucrose in a continuous, high-yield process. The sucrose can then be used in the production of biofuels and biochemicals. (Earlier post.)
In addition, the company announced it has received a notice of allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office on a cornerstone composition of matter patent (US Patent Application No. 12/348,887) protecting the company’s sucrose-producing cyanobacteria and their new genetic code.
MIT team develops new synthetic pathway and modular engineering toolkit for direct biosynthesis of odd-chain molecules for fuels and chemicals
November 03, 2012
Researchers at MIT have adapted the butanol pathway for the synthesis of odd-chain molecules and have also developed a complementary modular toolkit to facilitate pathway construction, characterization, and optimization in engineered Escherichia coli bacteria.
The modular nature of the pathway enables multi-entry and multi-exit biosynthesis of various odd-chain compounds at high efficiency. By varying combinations of the pathway and toolkit enzymes, they demonstrated controlled production of propionate, trans-2-pentenoate, valerate, and pentanol—compounds with applications that include biofuels, antibiotics, biopolymers, and aroma chemicals.
Calysta Energy engineering organisms to convert methane to low-cost liquid hydrocarbons; BioGTL process
October 22, 2012
|Calysta is using its proprietary BioGTL biological gas-to-liquids platform to convert natural gas to liquid hydrocarbons. Click to enlarge.|
Start-up Calysta Energy plans to use methane as a feedstock for engineered organisms to produce liquid hydrocarbon fuels and high value chemicals that are cost-effective, scalable and reduce environmental impact.
Current technology approaches to creating new fuels and chemicals have failed to achieve necessary market economics, creating a significant worldwide market opportunity, according to the biotech company. Calysta says that in contrast to current algae- and sugar-based methods, a methane-based biofuel platform is expected to produce fuel at less than half the cost of other biological methods, allowing direct competition with petroleum-based fuels.
Amyris awarded $8M DARPA Living Foundries contract
June 12, 2012
Renewable fuels and chemicals company Amyris, Inc. has been awarded a contract from the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under its Living Foundries program solicitation (earlier post) to develop tools that can expand the scope of Amyris's industrial synthetic biology technology platform across various biological platforms and cell types.
The contract is worth approximately $8 million in funds to Amyris, conditioned on meeting certain technical milestones in connection with the DARPA’s Living Foundries research program, announced in 2011. The Living Foundries program aims to create a rapid, reliable manufacturing capability in which multiple cellular functions can be fabricated, mixed and matched on demand and the whole system controlled by integrated circuitry, opening up the full space of biologically produced materials and systems.
DOE to fund up to $12M in FY 2012 for work on innovative biosynthetic pathways for transformational improvements in biofuels production
May 26, 2012
The US Department of Energy (DOE) is soliciting (DE-FOA-0000719) research projects for up approximately $12 million in awards in FY 2012 for work on biosynthetic pathways for advanced biofuels to demonstrate transformational, not incremental, improvements in yield and productivity.
Synthetic biology technologies hold promise for addressing critical barriers in the biological and chemical production of important advanced biofuels and products, notes the DOE, including such barriers as product inhibition, tolerance to inhibitors, process robustness in the face of complex pretreatment processes and low yields, and productivity of conversion processes. The FOA invites the R&D community to apply these newer techniques to enhance and enable the development in biological or hybrid systems for producing advanced biofuels and high energy impact bio-based products. The focus of the FOA is in two topic areas:
Obama Administration releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint; health, food, energy and environment
April 26, 2012
The White House today released a national Bioeconomy Blueprint, a comprehensive approach to harnessing innovations in biological research to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. In coordination with the Blueprint’s release, Federal officials also announced a number of new commitments to help achieve the Blueprint’s goals.
The National Bioeconomy Blueprint describes five strategic objectives for a bioeconomy with the potential to generate economic growth and address societal needs. Although progress is being made in all of these areas, according to the Blueprint, much work remains if the United States is to remain competitive. The objectives are: