Microvi Biotechnologies, a leading innovator of biocatalytic processes, working with the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has demonstrated breakthrough improvements to biological ethanol production.
Microvi’s technology uses engineered biocatalyst composites which have been synthetically designed to 1) alleviate ethanol toxicity on the cells which produce it, 2) induce higher feedstock conversion yields and efficiencies, and 3) enable robust and repeatable continuous fermentation. The technology, now commercially available, is also designed to limit microbial contaminants in the production process.
In the first phase of the Microvi-ABPDU collaboration, Microvi’s biocatalytic technology was compared with a conventional yeast ethanol production (control) system run in parallel, at bench scale, at the ABPDU. The investigation showed that even under non-optimized conditions, the Microvi technology achieved higher performance values than the control system:
- Bio-ethanol productivity nearly doubled (8.15 g L-1 h-1 vs. 3.95 g L-1 h-1).
- Feedstock conversion yields approached theoretical maximum (99.8% vs. 77.4%).
- Achievement of higher titer (24.05% vs 18.39% ethanol v/v).
- Minimal production of acetic acid, an undesirable side product seen in some ethanol fermentations due to contamination or metabolic stress.
“These results validate the revolutionary performance achievable with Microvi biocatalytic processes,” said Fatemeh Shirazi, CEO of Microvi. “This validation study, like other ongoing third-party validations of various Microvi technologies, show the promise of Microvi’s biomimetic approach—design inspired by nature—to enhance bioconversion processes.”
A preliminary techno-economic evaluation by Microvi indicates that the combined impact of higher productivity, increased titers, and near complete conversion of feedstock to ethanol represents a strong case for cost reduction by ethanol and bio-based chemical producers.
“The type of technology represented by this new biocatalytic process could play a key role in improving ethanol production economics and scaling using traditional first generation feedstocks as well as leveraging second generation non-food energy crops and agricultural residue, ” said Todd Pray, program head at the ABPDU. “We look forward to further optimization and scale-up work with Microvi in future phases of our collaboration, including validation using lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks.”
Ameen Razavi, Director of Innovation Research, Microvi Biotechnologies
Microvi is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes innovative biocatalytic technologies in water, energy and chemical industries. Microvi’s pipeline of solutions, created using its proprietary MicroNiche Engineering™ platform, enable cost-effective economics, are energy efficient and waste free and deliver higher performance than conventional methods. To learn more please visit www.microvi.com.
The ABPDU at Berkeley Lab is a state-of-the-art facility for testing and developing emerging biofuels and bioproduct technologies in a process demonstration production environment. Built and partially operated with funds from the Bioenergy Technology Office (BETO) within the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and initially funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, this 15,000 sq.-foot facility is available to companies, Bioenergy Research Centers, DOE-supported researchers, academic institutes, and non-profit research organizations involved in biofuel, bio-based chemical, and biomaterial R&D. For more, visit www.abpdu.lbl.gov.
About Berkeley Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.