SBIR Phase I: Directed Evolution of a Hydrogenase Leading to Commercial Photosynthetic Hydrogen Production from Water

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1047407
Agency Tracking Number: 1047407
Amount: $149,982.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: BC
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
87 Silver Fox Dr., Greenwood Village, CO, 80121-2127
DUNS: 830038506
HUBZone Owned: Y
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Scott Plummer
 (303) 523-1811
Business Contact
 Scott Plummer
Title: PhD
Phone: (303) 523-1811
Research Institution
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project has the goal of genetically enhancing algae for the commercialization of photosynthetic hydrogen production from water. Currently, hydrogen for industrial processes is produced by steam reformation of natural gas, a process that requires large amounts of energy and generates sizeable amounts of carbon dioxide emissions. This project uses directed evolution, a technique that introduces mutations into the DNA of the native hydrogenase, to increase the functionality of the hydrogenase, the algal protein responsible for hydrogen production. Using this technique, a library of mutants will be created, tested for enzymatic activity, and the results evaluated using a novel computational chemistry model that has been recently published. The broader/commercial impacts of this research are that photosynthetic hydrogen production sequesters carbon dioxide and produces only hydrogen, ultimately emitting only water and energy. The impact of clean hydrogen production is magnified by the size of the market. In 2008, twenty billion kilograms of hydrogen was produced within the United States. In addition, publicly traded companies are including climate regulations as risk disclosures affecting their businesses and multiple countries are utilizing hydrogen for as a major part of their transportation infrastructure. With our success, the capital and operating costs for a biological process will be considerably reduced. Given the size of the current market for hydrogen and the support of Air Liquide, a major commercial producer of hydrogen, it seems likely that there will be opportunity for the seamless integration or our technology into existing industrial processes.

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

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