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Bioproduction of super absorbent polymers. Topic/Sub Topic: 8B

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0019948
Agency Tracking Number: 246197
Amount: $200,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 08b
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0001941
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2019
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2019-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-06-30
Small Business Information
25500 Crestfield Cir
Castro Valley, CA 94552-5500
United States
DUNS: 080224054
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Harshal Chokhawala
 (530) 220-0541
Business Contact
 Harshal Chokhawala
Phone: (530) 220-0541
Research Institution

Super absorbent polymers (SAPs) are crosslinked polymer chains that absorb and retain large amounts of fluid. Their largest consumer-based application is in the fabrication of diapers, adult incontinence pads, and feminine hygiene products – cumulatively representing a global $7 billion/yr market. SAPs are also widely used in many other industries. Most commercial SAPs are crosslinked polyacrylates (PAAs) or polyacrylamides (PAMs), both of which are typically made from petroleum-based resources and also have poor end-of-life properties. This SBIR Phase I project aims to develop a natural, low-cost, biodegradable, bio-based, and high- performance replacement SAP of the petroleum-derived PAA-based and PAM-based SAPs. Specifically, ZymoChem will explore various crosslinkers and crosslinking methodologies for converting the linear bio-derived polymer chains that are produced using ZymoChem’s proprietary microbes and fermentation technology into SAPs with both superior performance as well as superior end-of-life properties (e.g., biodegradability and recyclability) compared to traditional SAPs used for hygiene applications. The work plan for this Phase I project will involve [1] evaluating various crosslinking methodologies compatible with water for making 100% bio-based SAPs; [2] demonstrating substantially improved biodegradability compared to traditional petroleum-based SAPs, plus the potential for recyclability; and [3] demonstrating superior performance-based properties of the bio-based SAP compared to petroleum-based SAPs. Ultimately, the work during this project will serve as a crucial stepping stone toward establishing a low-cost, biodegradable, bio-based, and high-performance replacement of petroleum-based SAPs for hygiene applications.

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

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