SBIR Phase I: Improvement of the biofuel fermentation process by the phage-mediated reduction of contaminating lactic acid bacteria
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
11142 Hopes Creek Rd, College Station, TX, 77845-9228
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will be used to optimize biofuel production. The fermentation of biofuel ethanol is frequently disrupted by the growth of competing lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB compete for the feedstock, produce undesirable acids and inhibit fermentation. Currently, the LAB control method of choice is to apply antibiotics. Phage Biocontrol is proposing to develop an entirely new, alternative treatment for controlling LAB in the biofuel fermentation industry, based on formulations of bacteriolytic phage. Phage are natural, harmless, ubiquitous bacteriolytic agents that can be found in fermented foods. This project is focused on developing phage as a treatment to control LAB contamination during production of bio-fuels. The broader/commercial impacts of this research are to increase efficiency and profitability of biofuel production while eliminating the industrial use of antibiotics. The most significant commercial impact will be to decrease costly fermentation failure events caused by LAB, thus increasing both ethanol yields and profits. The broader societal impacts are arguably even more significant. First, phage treatment has the potential to increase biofuel yields, a necessary goal as fossil fuel levels diminish. Second, while there is a general agreement that widespread, non-medical antibiotic use should be curtailed, antibiotics are currently the most effective control measure available. Phage formulations have real potential to replace antibiotics for non-medical applications. Thus, the innovative application of phage to control LAB in the fuel ethanol fermentation industry will lead to positive economic and societal impacts.
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