Genomatica first produced BDO from glucose in February 2008, and has since demonstrated the ability to produce BDO at high levels from sucrose as well as from xylose, a five-carbon sugar. Development is primarily focused on sucrose because it is a readily available feedstock with a tradable forward market and with less pricing volatility compared to hydrocarbon feedstocks currently in use to make BDO. The ability to produce BDO from both six- and five- carbon sugars now opens the way to possible second-generation BDO processes that use carbohydrates derived from lignocellulosic biomass, such as wood residue, municipal paper waste, agricultural waste or energy crops like switchgrass.
At the same time, company researchers have demonstrated 20,000-fold increases in the concentrations of BDO that microbes can produce, approaching the commercial levels needed to manufacture large volumes of BDO at reduced cost. Concurrently, the company created strains of the bacteria that are tolerant of the commercial target concentrations.
With today's announcement, the company has shown the ability to produce purified BDO from various sugars, now validating the feasibility of all of the major unit operations in the lab, and setting the stage for a demonstration plant facility. The company will now focus on scaling up to begin operations at a demonstration plant in 2010.
"By proving the process engineering operations, Genomatica now offers the
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