The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Loan Program Office (LPO) made a conditional commitment to Solugen’s wholly owned subsidiary Bioforge Marshall for a $213.6 million loan guarantee to finance the construction of a production facility in Marshall, MN, for bio-based organic acids. This commitment is the single largest U.S. government investment in bioindustrial manufacturing since President Biden signed Executive Order 14081 on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy, according to the DOE.

The new facility will house three modular trains manufacturing various organic acids for use in the concrete, cleaning, agricultural, and energy industries​with the goal of cutting harmful emissions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors while helping deliver healthier communities across the nation. As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, this project is expected to create up to 100 jobs during construction and 56 highly skilled full-time manufacturing jobs once fully operational.

Leveraging enzymes and metal catalysts

Solugen will construct, own, and operate a biomanufacturing platform to produce organic acids with a technology that leverages enzymes and metal catalysts. Bioforge Marshall is a scaled-up version of Solugen’s Bioforge Houston, which has been operating in Houston, TX, since 2021. The production process has significantly lower carbon emissions and higher yield than existing methods of chemical production, notes a Solugen official, who adds that Bioforge Houston has demonstrated the ability to produce and commercialize the same organic acids slated for production and sale at Bioforge Marshall. Bioforge Houston reportedly has demonstrated an over 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional petroleum-based methods for incumbent chemistries.

The Bioforge Marshall project is projected to reduce emissions by up to 18,000 metric tons of CO2e per year (equivalent to the emissions associated with powering nearly ~3,500 American homes annually)—compared fermentation or petrochemical production methods for similar organic acids. The emissions savings are attributed both to the biogenic uptake of carbon (e.g., absorbed by plants and soil) from the agricultural feedstock as well as the low-emissions production process, explains the Solugen spokesperson. Additional environmental benefits are expected to accrue from the reduction of emissions that occur from trans-oceanic shipping when sourcing petroleum feedstock internationally.

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