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

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: N/A
Agency Tracking Number: 2010-00243
Amount: $90,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2010
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.8
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
2722 EASTLAKE AVE E STE 150, Seattle, WA, 98102
DUNS: 022778602
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Alexandre Zanghellini
 CTO - Computational Design
 (925) 395-1648
 alexandre.zanghellini@arzeda.com
Business Contact
 Alexandre Zanghellini
Title: CTO - Computational Design
Phone: (925) 395-1648
Email: alexandre.zanghellini@arzeda.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
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.

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

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