Rational Tailoring of Enzymes Stability and Performance via Polymer-Based Protein Engineering

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

BioHybrid Solutions
320 William Pitt Way Array
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

An increasingly developed global population necessitates an increased demand for inexpensive energy, which must be clean, efficient, and renewable in order to prevent adverse effects on future resources and the climate. Biodiesel has emerged as a renewably-produced, potentially carbon-neutral hydrocarbon, making it an attractive alternative to conventionally-obtained fossil fuels. Nevertheless, state-of-the-art chemical processing for production biodiesel suffers from inefficient conversion of the most cheap and low-quality feedstocks. Enzymatic biodiesel production has been shown to be a promising alternative due to a more efficient synthesis process, but its adaptation to an industrial scale has been slow due to enzymes’ cost and slow reaction times. BioHybrid Solutions will develop a new enzyme-based catalyst for biodiesel production to improve the performance and stability of enzymes, providing cost-effective access to cheaper and potentially renewable feedstocks. A drastic enhancement of the enzyme’s properties will be achieved by utilizing polymer-based protein engineering technology wherein stability and performance can be improved via targeted modification of enzymes with rationally-designed functional polymers. The fast-growing biodiesel market is driving demand for more efficient and innovative production. BioHybrid Solutions will be in a position to provide the necessary enzyme-based catalysts to this growing market. This type of enzymatic production will be more beneficial for biodiesel manufacturers due to reduced wastewater production, more energy-efficient processing, elimination of the use of hazardous chemicals, as well as higher quality of final products compared to that achieved by traditional alkali-catalyzed transesterification methods. Keywords: biodiesel, enzyme, enzymatic biodiesel, enzyme-polymer conjugate