SBIR Phase I: Environmental Biofilm Decontamination and Enhanced Energy Efficiency with Engineered Phage
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
27 Drydock Avenue, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA, 02210
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will evaluate the feasibility of using engineered bacteriophages to treat bacterial biofilms in industrial infrastructure. Bacteria are a major source of contamination, corrosion, bio-fouling, and energy inefficiency in industrial settings, costing the American public>$22B annually. They persistently colonize industrial infrastructure such as heat exchangers, cooling towers and transmission pipes. When bacteria settle on surfaces, they create a protective slime, called a biofilm. These biofilms are similar to dental plaque and can cause corrosion and poor heat transfer. Biofilms provide shelter for bacteria against conventional biocides, such as bleach and other toxic biocides. Current chemical and mechanical treatments are inadequate for remediating industrial biofilms due to a combination of environmental toxicity, corrosiveness and poor anti-biofilm efficacy. Using synthetic biology, bacteriophages?the natural enemy of bacteria?have been engineered to target bacteria in biofilms and force them to express proteins that degrade biofilms in a highly effective, environmentally friendly manner. This project aims to test the efficacy of these engineered phages, alone or in combination with biocides, against biofilms grown in model industrial systems. The broader/commercial impact of this research is to reduce the use of toxic, corrosive, expensive, and environmentally damaging chemical biocides, improve energy efficiency, and increase infrastructure lifetimes in industrial systems. Products resulting from this project will constitute cutting-edge treatments for biofilm contaminations in industrial settings. This project also represents a major scientific milestone in the practical application of synthetic biology to remediate industrial and environmental problems.
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