Industrial biotechnology applies life science tools, such as microbes and enzymes, to traditional manufacturing and chemical processes to produce biobased or cleaner, more sustainable products and materials. The Industrial and Environmental Section develops policies to help drive the growth of advanced biofuels, biomass supply, specialty crops, biobased products and materials, specialty chemicals, food and nutritional ingredients and synthetic biology and genomics research. We work closely with the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and international organizations to encourage the development of technologies that make our lives and environment cleaner, safer and healthier. This Section is also active in promoting technologies that support a growing biobased economy and meet the demand for sustainable sources of energy.
Biofuels produced from a wide range of renewable biomass feedstocks, including purpose grown energy crops, algae, and waste streams. Biotechnology enables the production of a variety of biofuels, including molecules that can directly substitute for hydrocarbons in transportation fuel.
Algae is a source of renewable biomass, oil, and food or feed ingredients. Many marine organisms can also be used as a biobased production platform for renewable chemical ingredients and advanced biofuels.
Industrial biotechnology enables cleaner, more energy efficient production of consumable goods, utilizing renewable raw materials instead of fossil resources. The use of renewable raw materials can reduce emissions of atmospheric carbon over the lifecycle of consumer products and fuels, in comparison to the use of fossil resources.
Renewable Chemicals & Biobased Materials
Biobased products are made from renewable biomass, oils or other carbon waste streams, including waste stack gasses. Renewable chemicals are the building blocks for biobased products.
Renewable Specialty Chemicals
Petrochemicals are often substituted for natural flavorings, fragrances and ingredients in large-scale production of processed foods and in low-volume and high-value personal care items. Biobased production of renewable specialty chemicals can displace use of petrochemicals in traditional specialty and fine chemical applications.
Synthetic Biology combines elements of engineering, chemistry, computer science, and molecular biology. It is an extension of the continuum of genetic engineering that has been used safely for more than 40 years by the biotechnology industry in development of commercial products. For instance, rapid gains in the speed, precision and efficiency of DNA synthesis, sequencing, and recombinant DNA technology combined with cataloging of genomic data permit advanced methods for predictable biological production of commercial proteins and renewable chemicals.
The industrial biotechnology sector envisions an economy in which renewable resources and waste streams are used to produce energy, renewable chemicals, and everyday consumer goods. Biorefineries would replace traditional oil refineries in providing everyday energy and biobased products.