Low-Cost Biological Solution for Reducing Carbon Pollution in Chemical Manufacturing

Period of Performance: 03/01/2017 - 02/28/2019

$300K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Industrial Microbes, Inc.
1250 45th Street, Suite 150
Emeryville, CA 94608
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Industrial Microbes is developing a green fermentation platform to replace carbon-emitting petrochemical production with newer methods that build chemicals out of methane and carbon dioxide.Chemical production is a major source of carbon pollution, responsible for 18% of direct industrialemissions. Our innovation is an engineered microbe that can consume carbon dioxide and methane and produce a chemical used to make synthetic fibers and biodegradable plastics. We performed a well-to-gate life cycle analysis which shows our process reduces carbon dioxide emissions 6-fold compared to the current process. We are able to significantly reduce carbon pollution because our process includes direct carbon dioxide fixation and more efficient unit operations. The chemical conversion occurs inside living cells by engineered enzyme pathways, in a process similar to brewing beer. The market is $6B annually, with customers including chemical companies and material manufacturers. We have received enthusiastic interest from a number of these customers because our technology is both cheaper and greener than the current method. The successful results of our Phase I research, combined with other breakthroughs in our lab, have significantly de-risked commercialization. The result of our Phase II work will be a process ready to test at pilot scale.