Valerian Materials, NCERC and SBI partner on biobased products

By National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center | September 30, 2022

Through funding provided by BioMADE, the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Valerian Materials, the University of Minnesota, and Scientific Bioprocessing Inc. (SBI) have partnered to perform research and development on novel sustainable materials solutions.

Launched in 2021, BioMADE is the most-recently established Manufacturing Innovation Institute. By supporting the development of biomanufacturing technologies, BioMADE and its network of 150-plus members are strengthening American competitiveness, creating a more resilient supply chain, and helping the U.S. becoming more self-sufficient. This project is one of several being funded by BioMADE as part of its mission to secure America’s future through bioindustrial manufacturing innovation, education, and collaboration.

“Projects like this are a perfect example of the research we do in the bioproducts space,” said John Caupert, NCERC executive director. “Creating value for our partners who are scaling up novel biotechnologies is what we do best and we’re eager to be part of this next generation of bioproducts. We are excited about this new partnership and to be working with a dynamic group of researchers with similar missions in mind. This is our second BioMADE-funded project and we are extremely appreciative of their ongoing generosity and support of NCERC.”

Valerian Materials, an emerging company focusing on the development of bio-derived, recyclable, and sustainable polymers, will lead the partnership that will optimize and scale the production of betamethylvalerolactone (BMVL), a biobased molecule with potential to be converted into several different types of polymeric materials and products. The fermentation and downstream processing will be performed at NCERC, a globally recognized research institution dedicated to the commercialization of biobased fuels and products. Scientific Bioprocessing Inc., a leading-edge instrumentation company focused on connecting sensor technology to data analytics, will work in tandem with NCERC to provide equipment and expertise related to fermentation monitoring, analysis and control.

Simultaneously, at the University of Minnesota, researchers in the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science will explore the incorporation of BMVL into advanced polymeric materials. They will be working to define not only the range of possible properties and applications of these sustainable polymers, but will also investigate their environmental degradation and chemical recycling characteristics to develop viable and sustainable end-of-use solutions.

“We are thrilled to pursue this research and development project through BioMADE funding in partnership with leading organizations dedicated to bioindustrial manufacturing,” said Valerian Material’s Co-founder Frank Bates. “Valerian Materials aims to be a leader in the production of next generation biopolymers and BioMADE support is critical for realizing a vision for marketing commercially competitive sustainable materials.”

“We at SBI know the challenges when optimizing microbial fermentation processes towards production scale,” commented John Moore, chairman of SBI’s parent company, Scientific Industries. “With our DOTS platform, we support bioprocess researchers to simplify their bioprocessing. The combination of our cutting edge sensors and feeding technologies are ideal tools for applications like media optimization and characterizing and ranking genetically modified organisms. Start-ups like Valerian get actionable insights for their bioprocesses faster and more affordably. We are excited to add the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center as a center of excellence providing screening and scale-up services using the DOTS platform."