CBiRC’s Bioproducts Foundry is uniquely focused on integrating biological and chemical catalysis systems to build a framework for producing industrial chemicals from biorenewable sources. To achieve this, CBiRC has organized into five interdependent research areas that include (i) Biocatalysis (Thrust 1), (ii) Microbial Engineering (Thrust 2), (iii) Chemical Catalysis (Thrust 3), (iv) Life-Cycle Assessment, and (v) Testbeds. These five research areas combine to create a unique multidisciplinary engineering capability made up of three interconnected segments (see diagram).
Thrust 1 has a goal of enhancing microbial production through highly targeted biotechnologies within Thrust 2. Combining biocatalysis with chemical catalysis exists in Thrust 3 which opens the door to the fatty acid or polyketide-based platform chemicals (examples include carboxylic acids, dienes, pyrones, branched and ring structures, ethers and esters, bi-functionals and multi-functional chemicals) at the heart of CBiRC’s vision. Biocatalysis efforts are focused on enzyme engineering, utilizing advances in structural biology and new biological diversity (see ThYme Database) with a goal of engineering enhanced microbial production. Together, these programs are delivering new concepts that will be evaluated in testbeds for the proof-of-concept needed to evaluate production potential. All of this will be assessed in terms of a holistic life-cycle assessment addressing both techno-economics and carbon renewability.