White Dog Labs wins DOE grant

By White Dog Labs | June 14, 2016

Biotechnology start-up White Dog Labs recently emerged from stealth by announcing a prestigious grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company's innovative fermentation technology platform promises to increase output of practically any biochemical by 50-100 percent 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, Wisconsin, June 21-22.

The DOE funds will be applied to extend MixoFerm technology, originally supported by an NSF 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 percent for a given carbohydrate feedstock (corn or cellulosic)—a potential game-changer for the global bioenergy industry," he said. "It is accomplished by synergizing carbohydrate with gaseous feedstock (bio or fossil) to improve output, reduce CO2 emissions, and improve carbon foot print. 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 $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 U.K. during WWI to provide acetone for gunpowder manufacturing. According to WDL Chairman 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."