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EPA Awards $300,000 In Funding For Green Chemical Manufacturing
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By Richard E. Engler, Ph.D.

On April 5, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Industrial Microbes, Inc. (Industrial Microbes) has been awarded $300,000 in funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program to develop a green fermentation platform to replace carbon-emitting petrochemical production with newer methods that use methane and carbon dioxide to produce chemicals.  The project aims to improve the efficiency of chemical manufacturing while limiting pollution using a fermentation process based on engineered enzyme pathways within living cells, similar to the chemical conversion process used to brew beer.  Well-to-gate life cycle analysis of the process demonstrated that carbon dioxide emissions were reduced by six-fold compared to the current production process, due to carbon dioxide fixation and more efficient unit operations.  Industrial Microbes is one of nine small businesses that received a total of nearly $2.7 million in funding through the SBIR Program to develop and commercialize new environmental technologies.