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A Novel, Membrane-Based Bioreactor Design to Enable a Closed-Loop System on Earth and Beyond

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX16CA35P
Agency Tracking Number: 150287
Amount: $123,164.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: T6.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2016
Award Year: 2016
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2016-06-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2017-06-09
Small Business Information
490 Lake Park Ave.
Oakland, CA 94610-8099
United States
DUNS: 000000000
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: Yes
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Molly Morse
 Principal Investigator
 (650) 427-0430
Business Contact
 Molly Morse
Title: Business Official
Phone: (650) 427-0430
Research Institution
 Colorado School of Mines
 Kayla Boster
1012 14th St.
Golden, CO 80401-1838
United States

 (303) 384-2569
 Domestic Nonprofit Research Organization

The proposed innovation is a membrane bioreactor system to produce a biopolymer from methane gas. This new methane fermentation process will expand and advance current gas delivery techniques to create affordable fermentation methods on Earth and beyond.
Mango Materials is currently working to scale up and commercialize the production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) from methane, but its scaled-up fermentation systems are typically tall and narrow to take advantage of hydrostatic pressure for the transfer of methane into solution. The proposed work represents a unique approach that could enable the production of biopolymer on Earth and also non-Earth environments, thus creating a closed-loop system for producing biopolymer products on-demand in outer space. The proposed design is a novel, membrane-based bioreactor that will enable bacterial growth and biopolymer production to occur in microgravity environments on moist membranes that are sandwiched between layers of the gaseous feedstocks methane and oxygen. This system will allow for efficient energy use, minimal square footage, and effective mass transfer from the gaseous to the liquid phase without being dependent on hydrostatic pressure. Mango Materials will partner with Colorado School of Mines where there is extensive experience with membrane bioreactors, to design and construct this system.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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