|LS9 modifies the ACP pathway in bacteria to produce renewable hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals with optimized properties. Source: LS9. Click to enlarge.|
LS9 Company, a synthetic biology company producing renewable fuels and chemicals directly by fermentation, has successfully completed a $25 million round of funding. Participating investors included CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures LLC; Flagship Ventures; Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
LS9 has engineered a one-step process using to convert fatty acid intermediates into petroleum replacement products via fermentation of renewable sugars. LS9 has also discovered and engineered a new class of enzymes and their associated genes to efficiently convert fatty acids into hydrocarbons.
LS9 is currently producing UltraClean Diesel at its pilot facility. UltraClean Diesel has achieved US and Brazilian performance standards for on-road use, and achieves an 85% reduction in green house gas emissions. (Earlier post.) In addition, LS9 UltraClean Diesel contains no carcinogens, such as benzene, and only trace amounts of sulfur.
LS9’s technology also makes it possible to create superior products that can achieve optimal overall performance. LS9 has demonstrated its ability to modify the genetic makeup of its microorganisms and precisely tailor LS9 end-products to have improved fuel properties such as cetane, volatility, oxidative stability and cold-flow. LS9 will have demonstration scale production of UltraClean Diesel in 2010.
In addition to low-carbon transportation fuels, LS9’s one-step fermentation process is capable of producing chemicals used in making industrial and consumer products. LS9 previously announced a partnership with Procter & Gamble to jointly develop and commercialize LS9 technology for use in the production of key consumer chemicals within the Procter & Gamble portfolio. (Earlier post.)
LS9 modifies the membrane lipids biosynthesis pathway in bacteria using synthetic operons to produce the hydrocarbon products. The biochemistry of that ACP pathway is well understood and controllable, said Steve del Cardayre, LS9 Vice President, Research and Development, in a synthetic biology webinar earlier this year. Precise product composition and performance is engineered genetically for specific end-use.
With advances in the tools of molecular biology, he noted then, system design is becoming the limiting factor to such synthetic biology solutions as opposed to system construction.
Renewable Petroleum Products and Technology (LS9, Feb 2009)