SBIR Phase I: Direct Conversion of Lignocellulosic Feedstocks to Lipids and High-Value Products using a Proprietary Microbial Process
This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project describes a simple, novel and economical process for converting lignocellulosic feedstocks, such as wheat straw, to lipids for conversion to biodiesel and fatty acids for specialty markets (e.g. wax esters, stearic/oleic acids) using a minimal number of steps compared to current technologies. The innovative technology described here is based on the use of a novel microorganism isolated from Yellowstone National Park, which is able to withstand extreme acidic conditions and is capable of efficiently degrading cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. The organism produces high concentrations of lipids (30-60% of cell volume) in a one-step process when grown aerobically on waste feedstocks in minimal dilute acid medium. The primary objective of this SBIR Phase I is to determine the feasibility of lipid production from various lignocellulosic substrates and determine fatty acid profiles for biofuel production under laboratory scale systems. Additionally, high value commercial products will be evaluated including waxes, biolubricants, and nutraceuticals. Preliminary lab bench studies have shown conversion of wheat straw to lipids ideal for biodiesel at 80g lipid/kg dry weight and the goal of this study is to produce 110 lipids/kg, which cost analysis studies indicate would be competitive with fossil fuels. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project includes the potential for a low cost, simple and effective means for lipids (biofuel precursors) from abundant lignocellulosic substrates. The products produced by the proposed innovative process includes biodiesel, fatty acids for specialty markets, enzymes for biofuel production, and raw material for wood product substitutes and fuel pellets. These products will be sold to biodiesel producers and distributors, petrochemical companies, composite material manufacturers, and fuel pellet manufacturers. Only a few companies and research groups are investigating microbial biodiesel production directly from lignocellulosic waste and, therefore, the scientific community will benefit from this research through a better understanding of direct degradation of lignocellulose materials and production of lipids by microorganisms. Furthermore, research into the growth and metabolisms of the novel microorganism described here will be directly beneficial to researchers studying other lipid producing strains. The success of this one-step technology would have a significant economic impact for the nation by providing a novel route to the production biofuels and biomass based industrial products from renewable sources.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Sustainable Bioproducts LLC
920 Technology Blvd. Lab 102 Bozeman, MT 59718
Number of Employees: