In Brazil, Genomatica and Braskem announced they have been successfully producing butadiene at lab scale since June 2015, using their direct, bio-based process. The companies are jointly developing a commercial process for the on-purpose production of butadiene made from renewable feedstocks, as announced in December 2013.
1) Direct, continuous production: The program team has successfully developed a microorganism that consumes sugar and converts it to butadiene at lab scale, in two-liter fermenters. Butadiene has been produced, collected and measured continuously, over the course of multiple days for each fermentation.
2) Development of multiple direct pathways and novel enzymes: To develop an optimal process, Genomatica used its computational tools to figure out every possible way that a microorganism could theoretically make butadiene, and identified 60 potential biological pathways. The five best were selected for experimental validation, conducted by Genomatica and Braskem teams in San Diego and Campinas, along with full-time visiting scientists from Braskem at Genomatica’s Innovation Center. The team explored a large number of enzyme candidates, applying environmental sampling and metagenomics, for each step in the potential pathways. Genomatica then multiplied enzyme activity 60-fold on non-native substrates using its high-throughput screening and enzyme engineering capabilities.
3) More intellectual property: The program team has significantly added to the extensive intellectual property that Braskem and Genomatica have in this field. This work speaks to design of optimal microorganisms and processes; supports subsequent development stages; and represents an important competitive advantage.