Seed-based lipase and phospholipase production for enzymatic biodiesel

Period of Performance: 07/15/2016 - 12/31/2016


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Jonesboro, AR 72404
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


The manufacture of large volumes of inexpensive biological tools (enzymes) for the production of biodiesel provides a market opportunity for the plant production system. Biodiesel predominantly is commercially manufactured through treatment of oil or fat with alcohols and chemical catalysts such as sodium hydroxide. Although this method works, it can be commercially profitable only when the used oils are inexpensive, such as those from restaurants, and contain few contaminants. However, used cooking oils are high in contaminants and these compounds must be removed prior to making biodiesel. Using enzymes, our biological tools, for manufacture of biodiesel resolves these contamination issues, increasing yield and lowering unit operations. Lipase and phospholipase are the preferred biodiesel synthetic enzymes and are too expensive today for widespread use. We hypothesize that lipase and phospholipase can be expressed at high enough levels in the corn kernel bio-production system to make them cost-effective for biodiesel manufacture. The Phase I objective is to determine the potential success of maize manufacture of the enzymes through transient expression of their genes in maize kernel tissues. Facilitating biodiesel manufacture using enzymes will promote better quality biofuel and lower environmental impact of the process.