SBIR Phase I: Microbial Synthesis of Propylene
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
MOgene Green Chemicals LLC
1005 North Warson Road, Saint Louis, MO, 63132-2900
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to engineer a biocatalyst for efficient transformation of feedstocks into a linear, volatile olefin, namely propylene. Current production of propylene from fossil fuels is unsustainable from economical, environmental, and social perspective. The biomass-based technologies being developed also are limited by either the low specificity of chemical processing or product toxicity to microorganisms. To overcome these challenges, a novel pathway for direct fermentation of feedstocks into propylene will be utilized. The functional attributes of propylene, such as insolubility in aqueous solutions and high vapor pressure, make their production process from microbial organisms facile by eliminating issues associated with product toxicity and recovery. The current proposal outlines plans to optimize biocatalyst efficiency by redirecting metabolite fluxes towards propylene. This will be achieved by deregulation of the relevant metabolic pathways with elimination of the known bottlenecks. The outcome of this project will be a "fast-to-market" biocatalyst that transforms feedstocks into propylene, a primary building block for petrochemical industries. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project, if successful, will be the development of a technology for microbial production of an important chemical intermediate, propylene, from renewable and sustainable feedstocks with broad applications in fuels and products. Propylene is one of the largest olefin used by petrochemical industries with a market value exceeding $100 billion. It is expected that by 2015, demand will outpace the propylene production capacity. Success of the proposed project would, therefore, lead to a timely development of a biorefinery industry for production of propylene from cheap and renewable feedstocks. Moreover, the knowledge gained from this project will be leveraged in optimization of biocatalysts for production of other olefins, thereby opening new market opportunity. Success of the proposed process technology will contribute to the economic and energy security of the U.S. by reducing the dependence on fossil fuels.
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