Proterro Granted US Patent for Biosynthetic Sugar-Making Process

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued U.S. Patent No. 8,597,914 to Proterro, Inc., protecting Proterro’s unique, biosynthetic sugar-making process.

The only biofeedstock company that makes sugar instead of extracting it from crops or deconstructing cellulosic materials, Proterro has developed a process that integrates unique transgenic sugar-producing microorganisms with a robust, modular photobioreactor made from off-the-shelf materials. This process yields a fermentation-ready sucrose stream, rather than a mixture of sugars, simplifying downstream processes and reducing their costs.

The photosynthetic microorganisms and their genetic code are already protected by U.S. Patent No. 8,367,379, a composition of matter patent specifically covering “the sequence and assembly of discrete genes of engineered cyanobacteria and the cyanobacteria themselves,” said Proterro CEO Kef Kasdin, who added that the design of the photobioreactor is itself patent pending.

“This method patent protects the technology that will provide a cost-effective, continuous, high-yield process to produce fermentable sugar from the transgenic cyanobacteria using water, carbon dioxide and sunlight,” Kasdin explained.

“While our first, cornerstone patent protects the genetic blueprint of our cyanobacteria,” Kasdin continued, “this patent protects our entire process of making fermentable sugar, from introducing the microorganisms into the photobioreactor through isolating the sugar.”

Proterro’s unique sugar-making process removes the price volatility that comes with crop-based feedstocks and eliminates the complex and costly steps required to produce cellulosic sugars derived from biomass. The result is an economically stable, fermentation-ready sugar feedstock for the scalable, affordable production of a variety of commercial scale fuels and chemicals through standard industrial fermentation methods.

About Proterro

Proterro is the only biofeedstock company that makes sucrose instead of extracting it from crops or deconstructing cellulosic materials. Using CO2, sunlight and water, Proterro dramatically lowers the cost of sugar production, unleashing the economic value of biofuels and biobased chemicals for industry partners. Proterro provides a complementary and cost-effective drop-in feedstock to the ethanol fermentation process. Proterro is leveraging its core intellectual property to create a 70+ patent portfolio. Backed by Battelle Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Cultivian Ventures and Middleland Capital, Proterro has been recognized by Lux Research as a top innovative company that stands out for its “disruptive potential.” Proterro CEO Kasdin has been named one of the top 100 people in bioenergy and one of the top 10 influential women in the biofuel business.


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