Proterro hits Q1 sugar-production pilot milestones

April 23, 2014 |

In Washington, “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 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 high-performance 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.

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