Less Expensive Biofuel Production Enabled by an Online Carbohydrate Monitor

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2011-02297
Agency Tracking Number: 2011-02297
Amount: $460,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.8
Solicitation Number: USDA-NIFA-SBIR-00339
Small Business Information
PO Box 272908, Fort Collins, CO, 80525-0001
DUNS: 141630561
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Dale Willard
 (970) 402-3117
Business Contact
 Dale Willard
Title: President
Phone: (970) 402-3117
Email: dale.willard@carboanalytics.com
Research Institution
The emerging cellulosic-based biofuels industry will benefit national security, lower Green House Gases (GHG) emissions, and bolster the American farmer through a reliable cash crop without necessarily stressing the American food supply. For the biomass industry to become sustainable, it is believed that production of ethanol must drop to $1.60/gallon in order to compete with foreign oil. Therefore technologies that contribute to greater production cost efficiencies would, not just allow for a cheaper gallon of ethanol, but more importantly, contribute to the sustainability of an entire burgeoning industry. Of notable importance is the need for fast, accurate, and easy to acquire measurements of simple carbohydrates, aka sugars, in processing. Sugars are the fundamental intermediary in most biomass conversion, as plant material is broken down into sugars before being fermented into ethanol and monitoring them throughout the process is critical to efficient biomass conversion. The problem lies in the fact that raw material and production variations result in variability in the net conversion of the final product. Any facility operating below its optimal conversion is leaving potential product fallow. Accurate measurement of biomass sugar content is of prime importance because it is directly proportional to ethanol yield. If an online sugar measurement solution was available, biomass facilities could make production adjustments during the process to maximize yields, flag problem variations at an early stage, and quickly pursue corrective actions. Our market research suggests an average facility will save nearly $1 Million annually. Our unique patent-pending microchip technology combines capillary electrophoresis (CE) with pulsed amperometric detection (PAD). CE is a proven means for separation of sugars in complex matrices. PAD is the gold standard carbohydrate detection scheme. Because we hold the only demonstrated technology for combining CE and PAD onto a microchip format, we can uniquely offer fast, simple, and reliable sugar analysis. Based on Phase I progress and the significant market potential, a core team of researchers have come together to form Carbo Analytics, LLC (CARBO) with the sole mission of adding value to carbohydrate-based commodities through reliable process monitors. In this Phase II proposal, CARBO will transform a proof-of-concept prototype into demonstration units (breadboard and production instruments) meeting end-user specifications and addressing performance, reliability, longevity, and manufacturability. Both instruments will be field tested with three key industry leaders. Phase II activities our purposely structured to reach development milestones that will place CARBO in a position to receive industry product development contracts that will pull development through Phase III and into the commercial marketplace.

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

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