NSF CAREER Award for CBE’s Shao

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering assistant professor and CBiRC faculty investigator Zengyi Shao has been named a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award.  [Read more…]

Glucan Biorenewables Captures Sofinnova Partners Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award

Sofinnova Partners, the top renewable chemistry venture capital firm, has announced that Glucan Biorenewables is the winner of the prestigious Renewable Chemistry Start-Up Award.

Following a public vote with almost 8,000 votes cast, the Top-5 companies were shortlisted. These companies then presented yesterday to a jury of industry experts at the BIO World Congress in Montreal.

GlucanBio was founded in 2012, based on technology developed from the University of Wisconsin and Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC) at Iowa State. Our primary purpose is to produce furan derivatives from biomass with cost and performance advantages. The market opportunity is strong and relevant, not only for furfural, but also for HMF, DMF, THF and FDCA. Our team offers best-in-field expertise in catalysis, IP management, engineering scale-up, and early stage commercialization.Engaging great minds like Jim Dumesic, a world-renowned catalytic chemist, and Brent Shanks, a highly acclaimed principal in the industry, gives us an advantage in hurdling technical roadblocks.


$12 Million Investment to Promote Clean Energy & Jobs

Obama Administration Announces $12 Million i6 Green Investment to Promote Clean Energy Innovation and Job Creation

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration recently announced the six winners of the i6 Green Challenge, an initiative to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in support of a green innovation economy, increased U.S. competitiveness and new jobs.

Projects in Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New England and Washington will each receive up to $1 million from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) and up to $6 million in additional … Read More >>

Experts in Fatty Acid/Polyketide Metabolism and Microbial Engineering

Unique Expertise in Fatty Acid/Polyketide Metabolism and Microbial Engineering:
CBiRC has assembled a world-class team of scientists that are well known for their work on fatty acid/ polyketide metabolism and microbial metabolic engineering. The team is focused on the enzymes involved in Claisen condensation-based carbon-chain extension and chain termination with the aim of directing the process of fatty acid assembly in microbes.

The enzymes and proteins of interest include:

  • 3-ketoacyl-ACP Synthase,
  • Acetoacetyl-CoA
  • Acetyl-CoA/Propionyl-CoA Synthetase
  • Acyl-CoA Carboxylases
  • Methylketone Synthase
  • Thioesterases
  • Biocatalysts of the Acetyl-CoA Condensation
  • Fatty Acid Elongase
  • Biotin.

Overall Aim of the Center:
The overall aim is to engineer microbes in order to direct glucose utilization to the fatty acid or polyketide biosynthetic pathways with a goal of enhancing microbial production through targeted engineering. Combining biocatalysis with chemical catalysis opens the door to the fatty acid or polyketide-based platform chemicals (examples include carboxylic acids, ring structures and bifunctional molecules) at the heart of CBiRC’s vision.

Faculty involved in Enzyme Engineering:
Project Name: 3-ketoacyl-ACP Synthase, Acetoacetyl-CoA: Acetyl-CoA/Propionyl-CoA Synthetase; Acyl-CoA Carboxylases; Methylketone Synthase/Thioesterase; Thioesterases; Biocatalysts of the Acetyl-CoA Condensation; Fatty Acid Elongase; Biotin.

  1. Basil J. Nikolau Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology Iowa State University
  2. Joseph P. Noel Jack H. Skirball Center for Chemical Biology & Proteomics Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  3. Peter J. Reilly Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  4. Thomas A. Bobik Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology Iowa State University
  5. David J. Oliver Genetics, Development & Cell Biology Iowa State University
  6. Eran Pichersky Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology University of Michigan

Faculty involved in Microbial Metabolic Engineering:
Project Name: Bioinformatics; Flux Analysis; Omics Experiments; Strain Characterization and Optimization

  1. Nancy A. Da Silva Chemical Engineering & Materials Science University of California – Irvine
  2. Julie A. Dickerson Electrical & Computer Engineering Iowa State University
  3. Ramon Gonzalez Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering W. M. Rice University
  4. Laura R. Jarboe Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  5. Ka-Yiu San Bioengineering W. M. Rice University
  6. Jacqueline V. Shanks Chemical & Biological Engineering Iowa State University
  7. Eve S. Wurtele Genetics, Development & Cell Biology Iowa State University
  8. Suzanne B. Sandmeyer Biological Chemistry University of California –Irvine

New Building for Interdiscplinary Work in Biorenews

The new Biorenewables Research Laboratory (BRL) at Iowa State University is the university’s hub for biorenewables research. Completed in 2010, the four-floor, 70,000-square-foot facility is the first phase of a planned three-wing complex, bringing together three primary research organizations under one roof: the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), the Bioeconomy Institute, and the Biobased Industry Center. The building was funded through a $32 million legislative appropriation, includes chemistry and microbiology labs for research, two large teaching laboratories, administrative and faculty offices and graduate student office areas. It also features a two-story “high bay” facility for larger, pilot-scale research projects in thermochemical biomass conversion. The university plans second phase expansion of the building once sufficient funding has been secured.

The building incorporates cost-saving, eco-friendly design elements that should qualify it for LEED gold certification. During construction 97 percent of construction waste was recycled with only 3 percent of the debris directed to landfills. Building materials were specified to contain the maximum amount of pre- and post-consumer recycled content. Over 30 percent of the total building materials consist of recycled content. Because building materials can change many hands and travel great distances, a Chain of Custody form was completed for virtually every material that made its way to this project. This ensured that much of the materials came from within a 500 mile radius and were collected in a sustainable manner. Wood used in the building frame is documented from the forest, to the lumber mill, to our supplier, to our site. The same was done for metals, concrete and other materials.

The orientation of the building captures southern exposure and the resulting daylight. Incredibly, 92 percent of the spaces within the building enjoy direct exterior views. In addition to natural lighting, the building uses recyclable building materials such as the doors and cabinetry made from bamboo. The building is also equipped with a rainwater collection and storage system, and a portion of the structure has an energy-saving vegetated roof. Overall water consumption is reduced by 75 percent because of these measures. The lighting systems throughout the building utilize occupancy sensors and compact fluorescent lighting (CFLs) to make full use of natural light and to drastically reduce our need for electricity. The offices and public spaces are air conditioned by a system called a chilled beam. Chilled beams use chilled water in a series of coils that then have ducted air pushed through the coils. It uses less energy to run chilled water than conditioned air and saves money with smaller air duct work required. This is the first time this system has been used in the state of Iowa. The surrounding landscape is a combination of native prairie plantings and adaptive vegetation, which once established, will not require watering. The site also incorporates switch grasses that are examples of biomass utilized in research programs.