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EPA Awards Grant to Integrated Genomics for Butanol Production


CHICAGO - Integrated Genomics has been awarded a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop methods to improve the bio-production of butanol. Currently butanol is produced from petroleum feedstock. Dr. Anamitra Bhattacharyya, Integrated Genomics’ Vice President of Research, says the company is currently trying to produce higher yields of butanol by reducing the effect of solvent toxicity on the production microbes. Existing technology, he notes, falters beyond 1.3-1.5% butanol as the microbes are poisoned. Integrated Genomics’ will engineer the metabolism of the bugs in order to develop microbial strains that have higher levels of tolerance to butanol. This will involve using in-house comparative genomic and molecular genetic approaches. Dr. Bhattacharyya says preliminary results are promising and within six months the company hopes to find a partner with which to scale up the technology. Butanol is a superior biofuel compared to ethanol for various reasons: butanol has higher energy content than ethanol; is easier to handle, and can be added at higher concentration to gasoline blends.


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