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Vibrio Furnissii: A Biotechnology Platform for Biomass Conversion

2007 DOT-RITA Seed Award


PI: Dr. Paul De Figueiredo (Texas A&M University, Plant Pathology and Microbiology)

Funded: $70,000

Start Date: 7/1/2007

End Date: 6/30/2009


Expected Outcomes

Results derived from the proposed experiments will benefit the bioenergy research and development communities by providing new insights into alternative routes for light oil synthesis. In addition, the proposed technology platform will facilitate efforts to transform biomass into fuel oils that are compatible with existing petrochemical transportation and refining infrastructures. This technology will therefore help satisfy our nation’s bioenergy needs.


World energy demand is projected to increase by more than 70% in the next 25 years. Biofuels derived from biomass hold great promise as a source of renewable energy that can help to meet this demand. However, cost-efficient methods for the industrial conversion of biomass into desirable fuels are not yet available. Current goals set by the US Secretary of Energy state that 30% of transportation fuels are to be derived from biomass by the year 2030. If this ambitious goal is to be achieved, then the proposed bioconversion platform may play an important role. Assuming that the proposed (or a similar) platform produces (a modest) 0.1% of the transportation-compatible biofuels by 2030, then the proposed approach would be provide an annual domestic contribution of more than 300 million gallons (with a current retail value of ~$US 600M).


The proposed work will provide the following deliverables: (a) V. furnissii strains with enhanced hydrocarbon biosynthesis ability; (b) Intellectual property associated with the hydrocarbon biosynthesis profiles of selected strains generated in this research; (c) Information about V. furnissii genes responsible for altered biofuel production and accumulation; (d) Enhanced awareness of bioenergy technology development among undergraduate, graduate student, and postdoctoral trainees will constitute an important deliverable associated with this research effort.

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