Gevo awarded two US patents for bio-based isobutanol production

13 September 2011 15:23  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Gevo has been awarded two patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for technologies to produce bio-based isobutanol, the US renewable chemicals company said on Tuesday.

Gevo said the technologies help to turn an industrial yeast strain into a “highly efficient cell factory” to produce isobutanol (IBA).

One patent, for a “yeast organism producing isobutanol at a high yield”, focuses on converting an ethanol-producing yeast into an IBA-producing one.

“This significant discovery virtually eliminates ethanol production in yeast and enables Gevo’s yeast to survive and thrive by producing isobutanol at high yields,” the company said.

The second patent is for “methods of increasing dihydroxy acid dehydratase activity to improve production of fuels, chemicals, and amino acids”.

Brett Lund, Gevo executive vice president and general counsel, said the company used synthetic biology “to reprogramme the yeast” to make IBA instead of ethanol.

“In other words, we changed the yeast so that it makes what we want instead of what it wants, and we made it so it does it really well,” Lund said.

Gevo also said it has filed a lawsuit against DuPont’s Butamax joint venture with UK energy major BP, and against DuPont, for alleged infringement of the two newly issued patents.

Butamax officials were not immediately available for comment.

Last month Butamax said it had filed a lawsuit in the US against Gevo, alleging that Gevo had infringed one of Butamax’s newly issued patents on “foundational methods for low-cost production of biobutanol”.

US-headquartered DuPont and BP formed Butamax in 2009 to develop and commercialise biobutanol as a next-generation renewable biofuel for the transport market.

For more on Gevo, DuPont and other producers visit ICIS company intelligence
Check out Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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