December 09, 2013
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued U.S. Patent No. 8,597,914 to Proterro, Inc., protecting Proterro’s unique, biosynthetic sugar-making process.
The only biofeedstock company that makes sugar instead of extracting it from crops or deconstructing cellulosic materials, Proterro has developed a process that integrates unique transgenic sugar-producing microorganisms with a robust, modular photobioreactor made from off-the-shelf materials. This process yields a fermentation-ready sucrose stream, rather than a mixture of sugars, simplifying downstream processes and reducing their costs.
The photosynthetic microorganisms and their genetic code are already protected by U.S. Patent No. 8,367,379, a composition of matter patent specifically covering “the sequence and assembly of discrete genes of engineered cyanobacteria and the cyanobacteria themselves,” said Proterro CEO Kef Kasdin, who added that the design of the photobioreactor is itself patent pending.
“This method patent protects the technology that will provide a cost-effective, continuous, high-yield process to produce fermentable sugar from the transgenic cyanobacteria using water, carbon dioxide and sunlight,” Kasdin explained.
“While our first, cornerstone patent protects the genetic blueprint of our cyanobacteria,” Kasdin continued, “this patent protects our entire process of making fermentable sugar, from introducing the microorganisms into the photobioreactor through isolating the sugar.”
Proterro’s unique sugar-making process removes the price volatility that comes with crop-based feedstocks and eliminates the complex and costly steps required to produce cellulosic sugars derived from biomass. The result is an economically stable, fermentation-ready sugar feedstock for the scalable, affordable production of a variety of commercial scale fuels and chemicals through standard industrial fermentation methods.