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Engineering microbial co-cultures for efficient production of a high-value biopolymer from bioprocessing by-products of industrial crops

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2015-33610-23476
Agency Tracking Number: 2015-00163
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.8
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2015
Award Year: 2015
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2015-05-11
Award End Date (Contract End Date): N/A
Small Business Information
Ann Arbor, MI 48103-0000
United States
DUNS: 079363071
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Jeremy Minty
 Co-founder, President, and CEO
 (248) 953-0594
Business Contact
 Jeremy Minty
Title: Co-founder, President, and CEO
Phone: (248) 953-0594
Research Institution

The past decade has seen remarkable progress in the development of biobased fuel and chemical production. Biobased fuels and chemicals could create substantial economic benefits for farmers and rural communities, since biomass feedstock production and conversion to biobased products are predominantly rural activities. However, substantial challenges exist and achieving economic viability of large-scale bioprocessing systems remains a crucial roadblock towards establishing a sustainable bioeconomy. Co-producing high-value chemicals alongside lower margin products, such as biofuels, has the potential to dramatically improve bioprocessing profitability of emerging industrial crops and biobased products, and hence help drive their commercialization.The primary goal of this project is to develop a new biochemical process technology for cost-effective production of high-value biodegradable superabsorbent polymers (bio-SAPs) from low-value bioprocessing residues, including beet sugar by-products and advanced biofuel by-products from energy beets and switchgrass. SAPs are materials that are capable of absorbing several hundred times their weight in water and are used in numerous horticulture and personal care applications (eg absorbent cores of diapers), with a $6 billion market. This project aims to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility producing bio-SAPs as a high-value co-product of beet sugar and advanced biofuels, and to conduct a preliminary commercial validation of bio-SAP products by benchmarking bio-SAP performance against conventional petrochemical-based SAPs, and providing bio-SAP samples to potential customers/partners for evaluation.The proposed technology for producing high-value bio-SAPs as co-products from low-value bioprocessing residues could greatly improve the profitability of emerging industrial crops and biobased products. This is turn could improve rural economies by creating new markets for crops and leading to construction of new biorefineries, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Furthermore, this project could help reduce the negative environmental impact of petroleum-derived SAPs, which currently accumulate in landfills at 1.5 million tons per year, by offering biodegradable SAPs with competitive cost/performance.

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

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