Biotechnology and biomanufacturing continue to offer vast opportunities to advance science and engineering, support a growing U.S. bioeconomy, and provide solutions to our nation’s climate change challenges. Funded through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), three new projects were selected to help accelerate innovation and develop new biomanufacturing approaches.
Through the funding opportunity titled, “Accelerating Innovations in Biomanufacturing Approaches through Collaboration Between NSF and the DOE BETO-funded Agile BioFoundry (ABF), researchers will collaborate with the ABF consortium’s synthetic and bioengineering research projects. BETO and NSF have selected the following projects:
Location (City, State)
Project Title and Description
Enabling Scalable Redox Reactions in Biomanufacturing
This project will enhance the carbon and energy efficiency of a biomanufacturing process by upgrading carboxylic acids into precursors for biofuels and chemicals used in industry. The goal is to create a more efficient process for carboxylic acid reduction that does not release any carbon into the atmosphere. The team will work to identify the principles necessary to enhance efficiency in the enzymes used in the process. Through outreach efforts, the researchers will provide hands-on exposure to STEM fields for largely Hispanic populations and women, both groups underrepresented in science and engineering.
Madison, Wisconsin (53715-1218)
A Synthetic Biology Toolbox for Studying Bacterial Transporters
This project will develop and use tools to close knowledge gaps surrounding transporters in Gram negative bacteria to facilitate the development of superior biomanufacturing hosts. Specifically, they will work to identify proteins that enhance the uptake of nutrients into the cells of microbes and the removal of toxic products. The work will enable the development of superior biomanufacturing microbial hosts and support translational research. Activities that teach biomanufacturing concepts to K-8 students and recruitment of underrepresented researchers will broaden the impacts of the work.
Leveraging the Unique Metabolism of Megasphaera Elsdenii for Metabolic Engineering to Medium and Long Chain Organic Acids for Use in Jet Fuels and Biomaterials
The project will work to increase understanding of the metabolic pathways that allow the microorganism Megasphaera elsdenii to produce hexanoic acid, that can be engineered to create sustainable aviation fuel among a host of other products. Understanding how octanoic acid is created in this organism will enable scientists to better convert plant sugars to longer chain molecules and will provide paths for alternative approaches to bioprocessing. The team will recruit students from underrepresented groups and create classroom resources for use in elementary schools.
Funded by BETO, ABF aims to develop biomanufacturing tools, processes, and partnerships that enable sustainable industrial production of renewable fuels and chemicals for the nation. The integrated Design-Build-Test-Learn capabilities of the ABF offer a unique resource to the academic community to develop and implement innovative biomanufacturing technologies and practices.
All selected projects address goals included in the recent White House Office of Science and Technology Policy report Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing, to which both NSF and DOE contributed. The report outlines ambitious national targets for the next two decades to help establish R&D priorities that will be critical to advance the bioeconomy.
Learn more about these selected projects on ABF’s website.
ABF partners include Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and more than 30 university and industry partners.