Team:UC Davis E/Process Advantage


Team:UC Davis -

Process Advantage

Production Process
Feedstock: Our production process begins with a source of sugar. While the AmberCycle Industries industrial synthetic biology platform can use a wide variety of feed stocks, our initial focus is on PET plastic due to its rising abundance, low cost, price stability and environmental hazard. Plastics are produced with petroleum derivatives, used, collected and delivered to a recycling facility, where it is crushed and separated into individual constituents. Out of the estimated 33.6 million tons of PET plastic used each year, only 6.5 percent is recycled, and the rest is discarded in landfills.

Fermentation: Our fermentation process begins with the growth of our microbes. We engineer these organisms to express enzymes capable of breaking down the PET plastic ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. Ethylene glycol is furthermore manipulated to be re-integrated into the organisms metabolism. By the end of the process, the only material remains is the Terephthalic acid.

Recovery: Purified terephthalic acid has certain qualities that make it unique and ideal for plastic synthesis – one of them being extreme hydrophobic. This signifies that it forms a separate tier and floats on top of polar liquids, the most common being water. Because of this, the recovery of the compound is a relatively simple process, similar to separating cream from milk.

Finishing: The molecules we make are very flexible and can be chemically derivatized into a variety of plastic products. Through various finishing steps, the chemicals we supply to our partners can be converted to many useful products, including a material prevalent in recycled plastic amalgamates, a tensile polymer in textiles, a number of lubricants, or a variety of other useful products.

Each of these steps in the production process– from feedstock processing through fermentation, recovery and finishing – use processes that are used by other industries today. Our unique innovations come in how we integrate these processes and combine them with our industrial synthetic biology platform.

We use our technology platform to rapidly prototype and develop microorganisms and manufacturing processes that make chemicals.
Our organisms are highly optimized, in that we use our predictive computational and modeling technologies to explore virtually all possible cellular pathways; match it to the best organism; and engineer its internal workings.
As a result, we believe our organisms and processes have the potential to deliver better economics than conventional chemical production processes.