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Proterro Wins Key Notice of Allowance for its Photobioreactor from USPTO

Submitted by on February 24, 2014 – 6:10 pmNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  Photobioreactor is a key innovation in Proterro’s patented sugar-making process now deployed at the company’s pilot plant in Orlando, Florida

In New Jersey, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance to Proterro, Inc., for a device patent that protects the company’s proprietary photobioreactor, a novel element in Proterro’s already-patented sugar-making process (U.S. Patent No. 8,597,914).

Proterro’s unique photobioreactor is robust, modular and made from off-the-shelf materials. It provides for the growth of Proterro’s also patent-protected, sugar-producing transgenic cyanobacteria (U.S. Patent No. 8,367,379) and the harvest of a fermentation-ready sucrose stream.

In the case of Proterro, this is a modular system — rather than reaching scale by building larger and larger primary fermentation vats, the company has a modular design, and reaches scale by multiplying out the number of modules employed. So, there’s scale-up risk of a different sort because the unit only gets so big.

Rather than bathing the organism in water (as in the case of fermentation vessels), the cyanobacteria is kept moist by a water-dripping system (that also ultimately captures the sucrose that the cyanobacteria is secreting – with gravity pulling the drips down into a collector). Which means that one of the technical problems that has puzzled other companies, keeping the water temperature from creeping up so high that it impedes the organism’s productivity — is not really a factor here.

Using CO2, sunlight and water, Proterro has developed a patented sugar-making process that yields a fermentation-ready sucrose stream, …

They are expected to begin constructing a demonstration of the technology in 2015 — and the expectation would have to be that Proterro will locate that project alongside a strategic partner and investor that is a source for the CO2 and may be a customer for the sugars, which could be delivered to an onsite partner in the form of a sucrose/water solution, ready for fermentation.  READ MORE

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