WOBURN, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Modular Genetics, Inc. (Modular) is a sustainable chemistry company utilizing advanced technology in synthetic biology to produce specialty chemicals that are cost competitive, provide superior performance and are environmentally friendly.
Modular uses the process of microbial fermentation to convert sugar into surfactants. Surfactants are the bubbly chemicals that give cleaning product, such as body washes and shampoos, their cleaning power. Surfactants are traditionally manufactured using oil (such as petroleum) as the raw material. No oil of any kind is used to produce Modular’s surfactants. Modular’s microorganisms convert carbohydrate (sugar) into a microbial oil (a natural fatty acid), and then convert the fatty acid into a bubbly surfactant, which is release into the fermentation broth and purified using “green” purification methods. This approach provides an unparalleled opportunity for sustainable production of biodegradable chemicals using a process that is energy efficient, safe and nonpolluting. To perfect this process from a sustainability perspective it is critical to use sugar for surfactant production that cannot be used as food. The ultimate goal is to use fermentation to convert low value agricultural residue into renewable chemicals. The power of that approach is illustrated by the results generated by a high school student, Taryn Imamura, during a summer research internship at Modular’s facility in Woburn, MA. Taryn used commercially available enzymes to convert rice hulls into sugar. Rice hulls are not consumed by humans, and sugar produced by enzymatic treatment of rice hulls is “cellulosic sugar”, which cannot be used by humans as a food source. Taryn demonstrated that Modular’s surfactants are produced when these sugars are provided to Modular’s surfactant-producing microorganisms as the carbohydrate source. Taryn was motivated to pursue this project because her home state of Arkansas is the Nation’s top rice producer. Taryn’s results demonstrate that an abundant byproduct of rice production can be used to produce renewable chemicals, supporting a vision of creating a “green” chemical manufacturing industry in her home state. Taryn shared that vision with the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation as a contestant in the 2014 Clinton Ideas Matter Essay Competition, and won 2nd place. https://www.facebook.com/clintoncenter/photos/a.375681147996.158513.63936082996/10152504956752997/
Modular Genetics congratulates Taryn for her achievement. Furthermore, we commend the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation for creating this important competition. Here is the challenge they presented to Arkansas High School students:
“In a today’s interdependent world, we have many challenges. The Clinton Foundation works to change the world by (1) improving global health, (2) increasing opportunities for women and girls, (3) reducing childhood obesity and preventable diseases, (4) creating economic opportunity and growth, and (5) helping communities address the effects of climate change. Choose and define one of these areas and propose your own idea for putting it into action."
The message is clear. We are faced with many challenges. However, it is also true that challenges create opportunities. We commend the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation for encouraging students to think creatively, and to act. The name of their competition captures the critical message: Ideas Matter. Furthermore, problems are solved when ideas are put into action. Congratulations to Taryn for your success and thank you to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation for your vision and leadership.
Modular (www.modulargenetics.com) is applying its proprietary advanced technology in synthetic biology to produce products that are cost competitive, provide superior performance and are environmentally friendly. Based in Woburn, MA, Modular is a privately-held company.