Carbon Negative Chemical with Synthetic Biochemistry

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Program:
ECOSynBio
Award:
$1,657,763
Location:
Monrovia,
California
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
10/01/2021 - 09/30/2023

Critical Need:

A robust and sustainable bioeconomy can only be realized through the industrial-scale, carbon-neutral synthesis of fuels, chemicals, and materials. Biofuels, along with a growing number of other sustainable products, are made almost exclusively via fermentation, the age-old technology used to produce foods such as wine, beer, and cheese. Current commercial methods to produce ethanol biofuel from sugar or starches waste more than 30% of the carbon in the feedstock as carbon dioxide (CO2) in the fermentation step alone. This waste limits product yields and squanders valuable feedstock carbon as greenhouse gas CO2. Preventing the loss of carbon as CO2 during bioconversion, or directly incorporating external CO2 as a feedstock into bioconversions, would revolutionize bioprocessing by increasing the product yield per unit of carbon input by more than 50%.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Invizyne Technologies proposes an electrically powered cell-free enzymatic approach for upgrading ethanol into more useful chemicals. Because carbon for 99% of organic chemicals is petroleum-derived, replacing petroleum carbon with carbon captured from the atmosphere could greatly mitigate carbon emissions. Atmospheric CO2 represents a potentially limitless source of inexpensive carbon, but there are significant challenges to converting captured CO2 into useful chemicals and fuels. While recent technologies can capture CO2 by converting it into simple chemicals such as formate or ethanol, these molecules have limited applications. INvizyne Technologies’ approach would enable efficient, economical, bio-based, and carbon negative chemical production from CO2 neutral/negative ethanol and formate. Successful completion of the project will demonstrate that cell-free biocatalysis (using enzymes to catalyze multi-step chemical reactions in vitro) can complement cell-based metabolic engineering. The project will help diversify existing ethanol markets and seed a carbon-negative chemical industry.

Potential Impact:

The application of biology to sustainable uses of waste carbon resources for the generation of energy, intermediates, and final products---i.e., supplanting the “bioeconomy”—provides economic, environmental, social, and national security benefits and offers a promising means of carbon management.

Security:

If successful, the new technologies are expected to catalyze new conversion platforms for biofuels and other high-volume bioproducts that are capable of promoting U.S. energy security by increasing recoverable product from the same mass of feedstock through the avoidance of wasting carbon in the form of CO2.

Environment:

This program funds cutting-edge technologies to de-risk the engineering of carbon optimized bioconversion pathways capable of generating valuable bioproducts such as sustainable aviation fuel without emission of CO2 as a waste product.

Economy:

The technologies funded by this program can increase the potential bioproduct output by more than 40% without requiring another square inch of land or pound of feedstock, while catalyzing the next generation of carbon optimized bio-based manufacturing.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. David Babson
Project Contact:
Dr. Tyler Korman
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
Tyler@INvizyne.com

Partners

University of California, Los Angeles

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Release Date:
05/14/2021