Efficient isomer-selective biosynthesis of pinene from cellulosic feedstocks

Period of Performance: 05/23/2012 - 11/23/2013


Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Physical Sciences, Inc.
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Massachusetts Lowell
1 University Ave.
Lowell, MA 01854
Institution POC


There is a need to find more efficient methods for producing high-density, liquid, tactical fuels for use in missile propulsion or as components to improve key performance characteristics of currently available jet and diesel fuels. Generation of such fuels from renewable sources including waste cellulose, grasses, waste agricultural material and forestry products will provide important national security benefits as compared with the use of raw petroleum products--a large fraction of which are imported. During Phase I research PSI, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Henson s laboratory at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, explored development of a consolidated bioprocess for bioconversion of cellulosic biomass to high purity alpha- or beta-pinene precursors for high-density, liquid tactical fuel. That work will be extended during Phase II efforts. During the base effort PSI will pursue several genetic approaches to significantly increase beta-pinene production and export from the fungal mycelia, and will also pursue development of other key feedstocks including linalool and isopropanol for high-density, liquid hydrocarbon fuel production. In parallel UMass will develop efficient methods for solid-state fermentation. During the option period production of beta-pinene or isopropanol will be scaled up to produce several gallons of solvent.