Gainesville, Florida based biotech firm, BioTork could receive special purpose revenue bonds not exceeding $50 million for an agricultural waste to high value products and biofuels facility in Hawaii.
The company explained that funding has been made possible thanks to recently passed legislation in the State of Hawaii aimed at assisting a zero-waste project that converts crops, crop residues, dedicated energy crops, and agricultural waste into economically and environmentally sustainable biofuels and value-added co-products.
Hawaii’s Department of Budget and Finance has been authorised, with the approval of Governor Neil Abercrombie, to issue special purpose revenue bonds not exceeding $50 million for the purpose of planning, permitting, design, construction, equipping, and operating BioTork Hawaii LLC’s commercial facilities.
BioTork said that its bioconversion development efforts in Hawaii date back to 2010 when it launched proof of principle research for its technology.
Using a proprietary evolutionary optimisation approach, the company said that it enhances the performance of non-GMO microorganisms under real-world industrial conditions in a cost efficient way.
The conversion process is said to take a few days to cycle in a heterotrophic environment, meaning no sunlight is needed, to create oil for biofuel and high-protein feed.
Basing its efforts on the requirements of the ‘Hawaii Zero Waste Program’, BioTork explained that it entered into collaboration with the Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (DKI-PBARC).
Since that time the State of Hawaii, recognising the progress and potential global impact of this project, has committed $4.8 million in research, development and capital improvement funding through a contract with DKI-PBARC to focus on BioTork’s evolution technology.
Some of these funds have been committed through the state’s barrel tax allocations, which target energy and food security initiatives. Other funds have been appropriated through legislative capital improvement program allocations.
With the additional support of special purpose revenue bond funding, BioTork Hawaii said that it will be able to fuel the third step of its development program.
This would involve scaling up to build and operate commercial facilities that will have the capacity to convert agricultural crops, as well as wastes such as bagasse and glycerol into biofuels and high-protein feed.
“The passage of this legislation greatly enhances BioTork’s efforts in Hawaii,” commented says Eudes de Crecy, CEO of BioTork. “It demonstrates the attractiveness and the potential of our technology, which is focused on the bioconversion of agricultural waste, into a higher value product.”
According Tom Lyons, CSO of BioTork, in many circumstances there is much more value in converting carbon rich organic biomass into high value products, than burning it, burying it or using it as fertiliser.
“The model we pursue is to breed the good microbe candidates to specifically address the locally available biomass sources, using natural methods and to create much more value to the local and global economy”, he said.