SBIR Phase I: Directed Evolution of a Hydrogenase Leading to Commercial Photosynthetic Hydrogen Production from Water
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project has the goal of genetically enhancing algae for the commercialization of photosynthetic hydrogen production from water. Currently, hydrogen for industrial processes is produced by steam reformation of natural gas, a process that requires large amounts of energy and generates sizeable amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. This project uses directed evolution, a technique that introduces mutations into the DNA of the native hydrogenase, to increase the functionality of the hydrogenase, the algal protein responsible for hydrogen production. Using this technique, a library of mutants will be created, tested for enzymatic activity, and the results evaluated using a novel computational chemistry model that has been recently published. The broader/commercial impacts of this research are that photosynthetic hydrogen production sequesters carbon dioxide and produces only hydrogen, ultimately emitting only water and energy. The impact of clean hydrogen production is magnified by the size of the market. In 2008, twenty billion kilograms of hydrogen was produced within the United States. In addition, publicly traded companies are including climate regulations as risk disclosures affecting their businesses and multiple countries are utilizing hydrogen for as a major part of their transportation infrastructure. With our success, the capital and operating costs for a biological process will be considerably reduced. Given the size of the current market for hydrogen and the support of Air Liquide, a major commercial producer of hydrogen, it seems likely that there will be opportunity for the seamless integration or our technology into existing industrial processes.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Hydrogen on Planet Earth, LLC dba H2OPE Biofuels, LLC
87 Silver Fox Dr. Greenwood Village, CO 80121-2127
Number of Employees: