Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 36 projects totaling $80 million to support early-stage bioenergy research and development (R&D), including three that will make use of DOE’s Agile BioFoundry expertise in the areas of advanced biomanufacturing and bioproducts.
This R&D will enable cost-competitive, drop-in renewable hydrocarbon fuels, bio-based products, and power from non-food biomass and waste feedstocks. The work supports the DOE’s goal of reducing the cost of bio-based drop-in fuels to $3/gallon by 2022 to continue to provide consumers with affordable, reliable transportation energy choices.
The three awards stem from the “BioEnergy Engineering for Products Synthesis” funding opportunity that aims to create highly efficient conversion processes to increase the affordability of fuels from biomass and waste feedstocks. This will be accomplished by improving catalysts and new biological systems, identifying ways to better utilize waste streams like carbon dioxide (CO2) and biosolids, and creating high-value co-products that can improve the economic viability of biofuels production.
The awards are:
- $2,000,000 to work with Lygos Inc. of Berkeley, California, to implement a high-throughput microbial engineering Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle incorporating transcriptomic, metabolomic, and proteomic analyses along with machine learning. In collaboration with the Agile BioFoundry, Lygos will implement this high-throughput DBTL workflow to improve production of the target biochemical in Pichia kudriavzevii, an acid tolerant strain of yeast. Read more.
- $1,321,381 to work with ZymoChem of Castro Valley, California, to develop a bio-based process that is tailored for utilizing sugar-rich feedstocks derived from lignocellulosic biomass for the production of industrially desired bioproducts. Project partners include Oak Ridge National Lab and Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU). Read more.
- $2,000,000 to work with University of California, San Diego to develop novel algae platforms for the production of polymer precursors, while simultaneously developing basic tools to enable improved algal production systems that will accelerate the process from initial concept to market supply. Read more.
In addition, a UC Berkeley research group led by Jay Keasling, Biosciences CSTO and JBEI CEO, was awarded $1,997,861 under the Performance Advantaged Bioproducts topic to elucidate the design rules by which lifecycles for plastics become circular and therefore sustainable. Keasling Lab researchers, in collaboration with the Molecular Foundry, will focus their efforts on a new class of dynamic covalent polymer networks, known as vitrimers, which combine the processing and recycling ease of thermoplastics with the performance advantages of thermosets. Read more.
Learn more about the selected projects here.