Researchers Develop Microbes that Produce Fuels Directly from Cellulosic Biomass
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA [WorldofRenewables.com]
LS9, the Renewable Petroleum Company(TM), today announced a major breakthrough in the ability to make cellulosic-derived advanced biofuels. A collaborative team of researchers from LS9, Inc, the University of California at Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have developed a microbe that can produce an advanced biofuel directly from cellulosic biomass in a one-step process.
Using the power of synthetic biology, the team of researchers engineered a microbe that consolidates advanced biofuels production and cellulosic bioprocessing for the first time. This breakthrough enables the production of advanced hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals in a single fermentation process that does not require additional chemical transformations.
“This breakthrough is a significant step toward the development of scalable, low-cost drop in compatible cellulosic fuels and chemicals,” said Dr. Stephen del Cardayre, Vice President, Research and Development, LS9 Inc. “Combining LS9’s single-step advanced fuel and chemical fermentation processes with cellulosic bioprocessing will enable the production of petroleum replacement products at lower costs and with significantly lower carbon emissions than current petroleum-based fuels and chemicals.”
The team of scientific collaborators that included LS9 scientists Zhihao Hu, Andreas Schirmer, Amy McClure, and Stephen del Cardayre, and the U.C. Berkeley and JBEI team of Eric Stein, Yisheng Kang, Gregory Bokinsky and Jay Keasling, have published the results of this research in the January 28, 2010 edition of the journal Nature. The paper is entitled: “Microbial production of fatty acid-derived fuels and chemicals from plant biomass.”
“This was truly a team effort that demonstrates the strength of combining academic, government, and industrial efforts and the importance of grant programs, such as the UC Discovery Grant, which support them,” added Jay Keasling, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute.
LS9 is the low-cost producer of renewable advanced diesel products. LS9’s UltraClean(TM) Diesel is the only finished fuel directly produced by fermentation of renewable raw materials in a single step. The company’s proprietary one-step process has higher yields and removes additional production costs associated with the multi-step processes required by other renewable diesel technologies. LS9’s technology also results in superior products that are designed to uniquely achieve optimal overall performance. A leader in synthetic biology, LS9 genetically engineers microorganisms to precisely produce fuels to have desired properties such as cetane, volatility, oxidative stability and cold-flow, while offering an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared to conventional diesel. The published research demonstrates how the LS9 organisms can be further engineered to directly convert biomass to these advanced fuels and chemicals.
“LS9’s single-step production technology already positions LS9 to be the low-cost producer of low-carbon advance biofuels using first generation feedstocks such as sugar cane,” said Bill Haywood, Chief Executive Officer, LS9, Inc. “This amazing breakthrough represents a significant advancement toward the low cost production from cellulosic biomass, which will lead to greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, lower-costs, and an ability to leverage abundant non-food feedstocks throughout the world.”
The team of collaborators will now jointly work on optimizing the efficiency by which their engineered microbe can convert cellulosic biomass into advanced biofuels.
This research was supported by funds from LS9, Inc. and the UC Discovery Grant program. The UC Discovery Grant program is a three-way partnership between the University of California, private industry and the state of California that is aimed at strengthening and expanding California’s economy through targeted fields of research.
JBEI is one of three Bioenergy Research Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the development of the next generation of biofuels. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, JBEI is a scientific partnership led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and includes the Sandia National Laboratories, the University of California (UC) campuses of Berkeley and Davis, the Carnegie Institution for Science (located on the campus of Stanford University), and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
LS9, Inc., the Renewable Petroleum Company(TM), is a privately-held industrial biotechnology company pursuing the commercial development of renewable fuels and chemicals. LS9 is applying synthetic biology to produce proprietary biofuels that are compatible with existing fuel distribution and consumer infrastructure, as well as high-value industrial chemicals. LS9 is the pioneer in the commercial development of fermentation derived hydrocarbon biofuels and its patent-pending Renewable Petroleum(TM) products are custom engineered in the lab to address immediate market needs for clean energy alternatives to petroleum. The company was founded in 2005 and Chevron Technology Ventures, Flagship Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners have provided funding to date. The company has also entered into a strategic partnership with Procter & Gamble. LS9 is headquartered in South San Francisco, California. Additional information about LS9 products and capabilities is available at www.ls9.com
Source: LS9 Inc.