Initial pilot results show consistent and controllable sugar production, using the company's novel photobioreactor developed with NASA spacesuit maker ILC Dover
WASHINGTON, D.C. – "Proterro has reached its Q1 sugar-production pilot milestones," CEO Kef Kasdin reported here today at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference. Updating attendees on Proterro's progress in developing an affordable, clean sugar feedstock for biofuels and biobased chemicals, Kasdin said: "While sugar production has begun at low levels, it has been controllable, meaning that we can increase sugar productivity as predicted. We also consistently saw no contamination effect on productivity."
"In four months of continuous operation at our pilot plant in Orlando, Florida, our robust photobioreactors – key elements in our patented sugar-making process – yielded results verifying that our process is scalable," she continued.
In February, Proterro announced that the USPTO had issued a notice of allowance for a patent protecting the novel photobioreactor, which cultivates Proterro's patented, sugar-producing cyanobacteria, the other key part of the company's sugar-making process.
Learnings from the pilot thus far are leading to improvements in the next-generation photobioreactor being developed with ILC Dover (ILC), the NASA spacesuit maker that specializes in advanced fabrics and engineered inflatables, Kasdin said. She added that an updated iteration of the photobioreactor is due for installation later this quarter.
Describing the ILC relationship, Kasdin explained: "Because the photobioreactor is a major component of our process, finding the right company to help create one that would have all the qualities necessary for a successful – and affordable – outcome was crucial to our progress. Our search ended when we were referred to ILC."
The Delaware-based company "closely collaborated with our own engineers to create a modular, robust, collapsible structure that would integrate systems for optimizing light, water supply and sugar collection," Kasdin said. "Together, we continue to improve the photobioreactor's design as it has been put to the test."
"We have been designing and producing a range of engineered solutions employing highperformance flexible materials since 1947, for use in many applications, most notably the spacesuits we produce for NASA and the containment solutions we provide to the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical markets," said Fran DiNuzzo, ILC's president.
"Venturing into the renewable energy market with such an innovative company as Proterro was and remains the right fit."
Proterro is the only biofeedstock company that makes sucrose instead of extracting it from crops or deconstructing cellulosic materials. Proterro has developed a patented sugar-making process using CO2, sunlight and water, and integrating patented transgenic sugar-producing cyanobacteria with patent-pending photobioreactors for cultivating those microorganisms.
The process yields a fermentation-ready sucrose stream, removing the price volatility that comes with crop-based feedstock and eliminating the complex and costly steps required to produce cellulosic sugars derived from biomass. Proterro is leveraging its core intellectual property to create a 70+ patent portfolio. Proterro has been recognized by Lux Research as a top innovative company that stands out for its "disruptive potential." Biofuels Digest named Proterro CEO Kef Kasdin among the top 100 people in the bioeconomy for 2013-14. For more information, please visit www.proterro.com.
About ILC Dover (ILC)
ILC is a provider of engineered solutions, solving complex customer problems in multiple markets, including pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, industrial, infrastructure protection, healthcare, and now renewable energy. ILC's engineered solutions are designed to save space, withstand extreme conditions, and, in many cases, save lives. With facilities in the United States and Europe, ILC has more than 450,000 square feet of office, development and manufacturing space. For more information, please visit www.ilcdover.com.
Proterro is a trademark of Proterro, Inc. Any other names of actual companies, organizations, entities, products or services may be the trademarks of their respective owners.