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DOE Awards Metabolix $6 Million Grant to Develop Renewable Biofuels

May 17, 2011
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Business Wire reports that bioscience company Metabolix, Inc., has been awarded a $6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The grant is part of the Obama administration’s $42 million research and development project fund to support the production of biofuels, bioenergy and high-value biobased products. Metabolix will use the funding to continue research of engineered switchgrass in an effort to provide a sustainable alternative to petroleum feedstocks. Under the new grant agreement, the company plans to attempt to further enhance expression of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) in switchgrass to allow co-production of chemicals and densified biomass. In addition to attempting to produce densified biomass with transportation and fuel properties closely matching coal, Metabolix also plans to further develop and scale-up its selective thermolysis process which utilizes moderate temperature to recover a new platform chemical directly from PHA containing switchgrass. This platform chemical, crotonic acid, can be readily converted through simple known chemical conversion steps to a range of commodity chemical intermediates including butanol and propylene.

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