Bioconversion of natural gas to iso-butanol : Engineering considerations for commercialization
Bryan Yeh, PE
Vice President, Research & Technology
Industrial Products Division
Tuesday, Sept 22
6:00 to 8:30 PM
Two Mile Wines
477 25th St Oakland, CA 94612
The event is a few blocks north of the 19th Street BART station. There is street parking available; the closest parking garage is 2323 Webster.
The low cost and abundant supply of natural gas have been motivators for the development of many technologies that convert this low cost carbon feedstock into compounds of greater value. Natural gas bioconversion is an example of a developmental technology which exploits a methanotroph, a methane consuming bacteria, by applying synthetic biology to program it to produce higher value materials of interest, such as biofuels or terpenes. Intrexon Energy Partners was formed as a joint venture to commercialize the production of isobutanol from natural gas using a methanotroph. Currently, the production of both isobutanol and farnesene has been demonstrated in lab scale fermentation. However, to successfully bring this technology to commercial scale, consideration must be given not only to optimizing the metabolic pathway engineered into the methanotroph, but to key issues in the fermentor design and downstream processing. Since the substrate is a gas, the design of the fermentor must be optimized for effective mass transfer of the natural gas to the liquid phase for increased bioavailability. Isobutanol is toxic to the organism above a certain level, so the process must also be designed to continuously remove isobutanol in order to maintain the fermentor concentration below the toxic threshold. Downstream processing must take into consideration purification of the isobutanol and removal of fermentation byproducts and contaminants. Process selection must weigh the efficiency and selectivity of technology options, while at the same time utilize as much mature technology as possible to minimize risk. The project team has performed numerous design reviews known as Front End Loading (FEL) to develop process criteria and scenarios that will be applied to the first demonstration plant.
Speaker: Bryan Yeh, PE
Bryan Yeh is currently Vice President, Research & Technology for Intrexon, a leading synthetic biology company that applies engineering principles to biology to enable products in the health, energy, consumer and environmental industries. Prior to joining Intrexon, Bryan served as Chief Operations Officer for ZeaChem, one of the first companies to demonstrate commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, Assistant Vice President for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), where he managed the biofuels practice as served as Chief Scientist for DARPA's Algae to Jet fuel program, Assistant Vice President at General Electric, and numerous senior level positions at Cargill, where his responsibilities included the construction of Cargill's Blair, Nebraska Corn Milling facility. Bryan also serves on numerous volunteer boards including serving as President of the Parkmead Education Resources Council and an advisory board member for Kiverdi and Supercritical Solutions. Bryan has authored numerous peer reviewed papers in the area of distillation, biofuel production and gasification. He has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, an MBA from the University of Minnesota and was the 2011 recipient of the Professional Progress Award from the Norcal section of AIChE.
Program consists of:
6:00-7:00 pm Networking & Light Refreshments (We will provide light appetizers. There will be cash bar provided by our host, Two Miles Wines)