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Pilot Scale-Up of Bioprocess-Derived Glucaric Acid

Company Name: Kalion, Inc.
Program Office:  Bioenergy
Location: Milton, MA
Email: Darcy Prather, President;
Award Amount: $189,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


Glucaric acid plays a role in two different aspects of the energy markets. It acts as an anti-plasticizer for large chemical markets, including polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and polyacrylo-nitrile (PAN). It also plays a role in the market for novel polymers that are substitutes for oil-based polymers used in coatings, adhesives, and other applications. 

The greatest barrier is achieving both low cost and high purity. 

For Kalion, the challenge is providing an effective path to commercialization that allows for high- value products to generate cash, while de-risking the effort so that large-scale, cost-effective and dedicated facilities can be built.

If successful, this SBV Pilot at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will provide Kalion with chromosomally integrated genes in the host organisms involved in its biological production process. By integrating the genes, Kalion will be able to lower the production costs by 1) improving yields and stability in the fermentation process, and 2) increasing by 50 percent to 150 percent the amount of time during which the system is able to function most productively, thereby increasing concentrations.   


Kalion's biological production process, which relies on fermentation, allows for the highest purity of glucaric acid available. This has allowed Kalion to partner with other organizations focus on PVA and PAN by improving processability while also doubling many of the mechanical properties, including tensile strength, modulus and toughness.

Using a fermentation-based approach and achieving the highest possible levels of purity will allow Kalion to take advantage of high-value product markets, reduce the risk of commercialization, and reduce cost factors, as well. The company will enter the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets initially, and then continuously improve the concentrations levels to allow for entry into other markets.  


The results of this project will immediately allow the company to scale its technology to commercial levels and fulfill demand requirements. Kalion's first customer in the pharmaceutical space will have access to cheaper and higher purity material within a short time period.

Kalion will be able to more rapidly develop glucaric-acid-based alternatives to oil-based polymers, with the additional scale allowing us to reduce impact on the environment and increase national security. We will also be able to provide substantial quantities of high purity glucaric acid to various companies that are interested in developing higher performance fibers and polymers from PAN and PVA while using less energy in processing.  

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