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Production of Methyl-Ethyl-Ketone (MEK) from Renewable Feedstock

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
2722 Eastlake Ave East Suite 150 Seattle, WA 98102-3143
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Production of Methyl-Ethyl-Ketone (MEK) from Renewable Feedstock
Agency: USDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $90,000.00


American energy and chemical industries are currently almost entirely dependent on oil (most of the it from foreign origin). In particular, the chemical industry has been optimizing, for at least 6 decades, most of its processes to be able to produce all the widely used chemicals (fuels,solvents,plastics) from petroleum. Growing environmental as well as geopolitical concerns demand alternatives to this development. Arzeda's innovative technology can play a pivotal role in this, and this proposal represent the first step to prove that using Arzeda's technology, it is possible to produce existing chemicals cheaply from plant material as opposed to petroleum. Arzeda uses computational models of biological macromolecules called proteins to alter their biological function and "redesign" them for industrial or pharmaceutical purposes. Under this proposal, Arzeda will modify existing proteins to make them produce a valuable solvent, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), from sugars from agricultural waste as opposed to petroleum. MEK is a solvent that is used in paint coatings and is, for instance, used widely in the auto industry. Doing so will provide several major benefits. First, it will be the first proof-of-concept that a valuable chemical can be produced economically from biomass using computationally engineered enzymes. In addition, it will allow the reduction of the nation dependence on oil while opening new avenues to value US-based agricultural production. Finally, MEK producers have been suffering from cost-cutting competitors in Asia. Providing a "bio"-MEK can provide a competitive edge to local producers, especially agricultural biorefineries and pulp and paper mills that can extend their offering using the process that will be developed through the funding of this proposal.

Principal Investigator:

Alexandre Zanghellini
CTO - Computational Design

Business Contact:

Alexandre Zanghellini
CTO - Computational Design
Small Business Information at Submission:

2722 EASTLAKE AVE E STE 150 Seattle, WA 98102

EIN/Tax ID: 264339048
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No