CIRCE: Circularizing Industries by Raising Carbon Efficiency

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Cambridge, Massachusetts
Project Term:
09/01/2021 - 07/31/2022

Technology Description:

The Harvard University team will draw from efficient infrastructures for cheap sugar supply, maturing gas fermentation technology, and sophisticated strategies to engineer fatty acid metabolism. Current bioproduction platforms are limited regarding to carbon efficiency, product versatility or productivity. These platforms have left legacies that will aid Harvard in developing the next generation of carbon-efficient bioproduction, however. It will leverage these to develop a road map for transitioning to a carbon-efficient, highly productive bioeconomy for energy-rich long-chain carbon chemicals with applications in a vast array of industries including fuels, materials, and chemicals.

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.


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.


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.


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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. David Babson
Project Contact:
Prof. Pam Silver
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