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White Dog Labs wins US DOE grant for biochemicals

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Biotechnology startup, White Dog Labs (WDL), has emerged from stealth by announcing a prestigious grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE). The company's innovative fermentation technology platform promises to increase output of practically any biochemical by 50 – 100% when compared to conventional fermentation, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

WDL's CEO will unveil the technology, known as MixoFerm™, at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop to be held in Milwaukee, WI, 21 – 22 June. The DOE funds will be applied to extend MixoFerm™ technology, originally supported by an National Science Foundation (NSF) small business innovation research (SBIR) grant, from first to second generation biofuels and chemicals via ‘microorganisms that can concurrently consume a cellulosic sugar feedstock and CO2, thus limiting the amount of CO2 released from the process. Applying a mixotrophic fermentation process will improve the economic viability for integrated biorefineries moving forward.’

WDL CEO, Bryan Tracy called the DOE grant an important validation of the innovation behind WDL's technology. "Our approach increases ethanol plant output by 50% for a given carbohydrate feedstock (corn or cellulosic) -- a potential game changer for the global bioenergy industry," he said. "It is accomplished by synergising carbohydrate with gaseous feedstock (bio or fossil) to improve output, reduce CO2 emissions, and improve carbon footprint. Furthermore, the technology allows a degree of hedging against volatility in one type of feedstock or the other."

Tracy added, "While we are seeking a partner to apply the technology to ethanol production, the initial implementation of the technology will be for the production of bio acetone and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). We have already designed a state of the art US$150 million plant to support our production plans, and applied for a DOE loan to help fund the project."

The company first pursued acetone butanol ethanol (ABE) technology when it was founded in 2012. ABE was invented in the UK during WWI to provide acetone for gunpowder manufacturing. According to WDL Chairman, Dr. Sass Somekh, "The plummeting oil prices forced us back to the lab to invent a new technology. MixoFerm™ technology is so efficient that it can withstand economic scenarios such as the 2009 global recession, the 2012 drought and 2015 oil price crash."

Adapted from press release by Francesca Brindle

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