Bedford, Mass., Dec 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Massachusetts-based biotech Conagen announced its participation in a collaboration supporting the ReSource program funded by a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) grant. The project aims to leverage Conagen’s proprietary fermentation technology to convert plastics and other energy-dense waste into valuable, reusable materials.
“Humanity needs to make better use of plastic resources and close the recycling loop,” said Casey Lippmeier, Ph.D., vice president of innovation at Conagen. “This cooperative agreement project will demonstrate the value of recycled material for building a sustainable infrastructure.”
Under the DOD, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office created the ReSource Program to research and develop an integrated self-containment system. The project explores using a combination of synthetic biology and chemical technology for turning plastic waste into critical supplies.
Professor Chris A. Voigt, Ph.D., directs the project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with Conagen and Novoloop. The Voigt lab has expertise in microbial genetic design and engineering and has created tools and platform technologies central to the effort.
Conagen was selected as the fermentation scale-up partner for its synthetic biology expertise, purification process development capability, and world-scale manufacturing.
“While conventional fermentation has been used for centuries to make foods and beverages, precision fermentation has become the core resource for commercializing natural and sustainable synthetic biology products,” said Lippmeier.
Novoloop uses chemical technologies to decompose plastic waste into chemical building blocks, enabling the downstream fermentation to make bio-products.
“Recycling plastic waste is just the beginning,” says Lippmeier. “This DARPA-funded project primarily seeks to improve the efficient use of resources by our troops. However, the technology for converting plastics and bio-plastics into other higher-value materials should create incentives to remove these pollutants from the environment and support humanitarian efforts with renewable sources of food, nutrition, and water.”
Now that Phase I is complete, the MIT team, including Conagen, advances to Phase II when they hope to achieve purifying, scaling, and upcycling waste into valuable products.
The MIT Voigt Lab is focused on the development of a programming language for cells. A genetic program consists of a combination of genetic circuits, each of which uses biochemistry to replicate a function analogous to an electronic circuit (e.g., a logic gate) and apply these tools to problems in biotechnology http://web.mit.edu/voigtlab/.
Conagen is a product-focused synthetic biology R&D company with large-scale manufacturing capabilities. Our scientists and engineers use the latest synthetic biology tools to develop high-quality, sustainable, nature-based products by precision fermentation and enzymatic bioconversion. We focus on the bioproduction of high-value ingredients for food, nutrition, flavors and fragrances, pharmaceutical, and renewable materials industries. www.conagen.com
Novoloop was founded in 2015 to deliver next-generation materials made from plastic waste via its patented low-carbon upcycling technology ATOD™. Through its proprietary dicarboxylic acid platform, hard-to-recycle plastic waste is transformed into virgin quality materials with superior sustainability at competitive pricing. With its first product, Oistre™, Novoloop provides sustainable and customizable thermoplastic polyurethane solutions for the footwear, sporting goods, and automotive sectors.
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