SBIR Phase II: Method of Disinfecting Precursor Materials using Plant Essential Oils for a new Material Technology
This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project seeks to further develop, and demonstrate at scale, a biological disinfection process that has exhibited superior microbial inactivation to steam pasteurization at a lower cost. This process leverages dilute concentrations (0.5-0.875% by volume) of plant-derived phenols and aldehydes to inactivate lower level fungi and bacteria found on agricultural byproducts (seed husks and hulls). The application focus for this demonstration is a novel material technology that converts lignocellulosic waste into a high performance, low cost replacement for synthetics (plastics and foams) using a filamentous fungus. This biological disinfection process can reduce process energy consumption by 83% and system capital expense by upwards of 50%. This project will fully quantify the efficacy of this disinfection process at scale (production volumes) as well as analyze the integration of this technique into a mycological material production facility that is presently addressing the protective packaging industry. Batch and continuous systems will be explored, and a comprehensive economic model will be developed based on the results. The mycological materials that are produced under this demonstration will be compared with materials fabricated with the existing pasteurization system, and samples will be evaluated by customers to ensure product adoption. High-embodied energy disinfection processes, autoclave sterilization or pasteurization, are ubiquitous within industries such as agriculture, food processing, and biotechnology. These methodologies are implemented to reduce or remove background bioburden (bacteria, yeast, mold) that can be detrimental to downstream processes due to contamination. Mycological materials production represents such a process since raw material contamination results in product loss and added labor. The plant essential oil (PEO) disinfection technique was proven under the Phase I research to offer a comparable process time to steam pasteurization and superior disinfection efficacy; thus this technology could serve as a drop-in replacement in some industrial applications. This process minimizes capital equipment and operations costs due a reduction in system complexity and energy consumption. In regards to the production of mycological products, this disinfection process bolsters the process robustness by extending contaminate inactivation periods which promotes rapid mycelium colonization or a reduction in incubation time. Therefore new market opportunities for mycological materials can be addressed while further supporting the business case for regional manufacturing using domestic agricultural waste as raw materials. Finally, the benefits obtained from this novel disinfection process permit an accelerated deployment and development of turnkey production systems to displace synthetic materials.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Ecovative Design LLC
1223 Peoples Avenue Troy, NY 12180-3511
Number of Employees: