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Carbon-Negative, Less-Toxic, Domestically-Produced Corrosion Cleaners, powered by Synthetic Biology

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8649-22-P-0672
Agency Tracking Number: FX211-CSO1-1317
Amount: $748,306.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF211-CSO1
Solicitation Number: X21.1
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-03-11
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2023-04-11
Small Business Information
14549 Minetta St.
Houston, TX 77035-6523
United States
DUNS: 057475094
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Yes
Principal Investigator
 Frederyk Ngantung
 (415) 272-9452
Business Contact
 Scott Robertson
Phone: (267) 663-9119
Research Institution

  The US Department of Defense relies on a dizzying array of specialty chemicals to accomplish its very long list of mission sets.  The US Air Force - as a service that relies almost entirely on physical platforms to accomplish its primary mission sets - is a particularly good example of this concept.  Given the indispensable nature of the chemicals that are used in the Department of Defense, it is surprising how little we know about where they come from or what effect they will have on our personnel and our environment once they have been used for their intended purpose. What we do know is that many of these chemicals are toxic, have significant carbon footprints and other negative environmental effects, and due to the nature of the global chemical supply chains, are very often supplied by strategically competitive nations(a worrying trend that is particularly acute in phosphate based chemistries like corrosion control). It should give everyone pause that the DOD spends $21B on corrosion control many of which are originally sourced from China and Russia.  Solugen is a company that produces specialty chemicals using a unique and proprietary process that combines biological catalysts (enzymes) with metal catalysts, referred to as a chemienzymatic process.  The key question of our SBIR Phase I was to explore a key area of development for the US Air Force where Solugen’s unique chemistry could provide better performance, lower cost, lower toxicity, and a more stable and secure supply chain. Due to its importance to the USAF and Solugen’s extensive experience in commercial corrosion control, we set out to determine if we could replace legacy aircraft cleaning compounds that often contain toxic, dirty, foreign sourced chemicals with Solugen’s non-toxic, carbon-negative, American made replacements. The key problem Solugen explored in our SBIR Phase I wasn’t whether current aircraft cleaners are working well; by all accounts they seem to be working adequately. The key problem is whether the underlying process that produces current cleaning compounds is in the best interest of the USAF, and whether Solugen’s new chemienzymatic process could produce a more effective cleaning compound that simultaneously addresses these emerging challenges. Solugen is requesting a Phase II award because we feel that the answer to our key question in Phase I is a resounding yes; Solugen’s core technology can offer a substantial increase in resiliency and performance to critical parts of the USAF’s supply chain. Notably, Solugen does not have a commercially available aviation grade corrosion cleaner today.  Our plan is to use the Phase II to formulate specific MIL-STD cleaning compounds used daily in aircraft washing around the USAF, replacing legacy chemicals with Solugen’s active ingredients. Once fully tested and qualified by a third party lab, we will then test those new MIL-STD cleaning chemicals with USAF maintenance personnel.

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

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