team of scientists from Bio Architecture Lab (B.A.L.), has developed technology that helps to further enable the wide-scale use of macroalgae as a feedstock for advanced biofuels and renewable chemical production by engineering a microbe to extract the sugars in seaweed and convert them into renewable fuels and chemicals.
“About 60 percent of the dry biomass of seaweed are sugars, and more than half of those are locked in a single sugar—alginate,” said Daniel Trunfio, Chief Executive Officer at Bio Architecture Lab. “Our scientists have developed a pathway to metabolize the alginate, allowing us to unlock all the sugars in seaweed.”
B.A.L.’s scientific breakthrough is detailed in an article entitled “An Engineered Microbial Platform for Direct Biofuel Production from Brown Macroalgae,” which appears on the cover of the January 20 issue of Science magazine. The paper is available here: http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.1214547.
B.A.L. currently operates four seaweed farms in Chile and has had success in growing seaweed at economically viable production yields. B.A.L. was a beneficiary of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy (ARPA-E) awarded to DuPont, for the development of a process to convert sugars from seaweed into isobutanol.