Perhaps one of the largest challenges of our time is the development of low cost and scalable sources of renewable energy. Work in the lab in this area is focused on pushing the boundaries of next generation biofuels as well as the biological production of advanced organic dyes for potential use in next generation solar cells.
Advanced Biofuels PRICE CAP: PRocess Intensification for the reduced CommErcial CAPEX of Biofuels Production (PRICE CAP) using Dynamic Metabolic Control.
Funded by the Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) Contract # EE0007563
To date major barriers currently impede the successful commercialization of integrated bio-refineries and large-scale industrial bioprocesses for the production of biofuels and value added chemicals. One of the most challenging barriers is the large capital requirement needed to scale these technologies (capex per plant capacity). These challenges persist despite the numerous advances in strain and pathways engineering that have resulted in attractive product yields using fermentation-based approaches. Large capital costs are a major challenge to the realization of the potential of numerous, sustainable bioconversion technologies. The focus of the proposed will be to develop a first ever semi-continuous fermentation process producing the fuel precursor farnesene from cellulosic sugars at currently unprecedented rates, titers and yields, resulting in greatly reduced commercial capex requirements. The result will be a technology enabling a commercial scale bioprocess (>100 Million gallons of fuel per year) with capital costs less that that of a current demonstration plant (< $40 Million USD). This translates to a cost less than $0.50 per gallon of fuel production capacity and step change in capital cost reductions compared to the current state of the art.