Press Releases

Announcements, Articles, In the News



Director of the CA Governor’s Office of Business Visits ABPDU

Panorea Avdis, Director of Governor Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), visited the Biosciences Area’s Emery Station Operations Center on September 6 to learn more about the biosciences and bioeconomy related initiatives. GO-Biz was created to serve as California’s single point of contact for economic development and job creation efforts and is an important one-stop shop for companies that want to take advantage of California incentives.

During the visit Director Avdis, who was accompanied by Deputy Director and CA Small Business Advocate, Jesse Torres, met with Mary Maxon, Biosciences Associate Lab Director, Blake Simmons, Division Director, Biological Systems and Engineering, Chief Science & Technology Officer and Vice President for Deconstruction, Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), and Todd Pray, Program Head, Advanced Biofuels Process Development Unit (ABPDU). Avdis also toured the laboratories at JBEI and visited the ABPDU to learn more about how it can be a resource for young biosciences companies seeking to scale up operations.

AIChE Honors ABPDU Researchers

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has recognized two Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) early-career researchers with honors to be bestowed at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., this fall (Oct. 29 – Nov. 3).

Akash Narani, a senior process engineer at ABPDU, has been named to AIChE’s “35 Under 35” list recognizing outstanding young scientists for their contributions to the Institute and to the chemical engineering profession. Narani and his fellow awardees are profiled in the August issue of Chemical Engineering Progress (CEP) Magazine, AIChE’s flagship publication, and will be celebrated at a reception held during the AIChE Annual Meeting.

Ning Sun, a research scientist who leads the Catalysis and Analytical team at ABPDU, has been awarded AIChE’s prestigious Program Committee’s Young Investigator Award for Innovations in Green Process Engineering and will present an invited talk on “Unlocking Biomass Energy: Process Development and Scale-up of Biomass Conversion to Advanced Fuels and Chemicals” during a special session at the AIChE Annual Meeting.

New Partnership for ABPDU Through DOE’s Small Business Voucher Pilot

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today 38 new National Laboratory collaborations with small businesses through its Small Business Vouchers (SBV) pilot. Berkeley Lab will collaborate with four small businesses. One of them is Kalion Inc. based in Milton, Massachusetts, who will use the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Demonstration Unit’s capabilities. ABPDU and Kalion’s goal is to reach full manufacturing-scale production of glucaric acid and glucuronic acid by creating a manufacturing-ready production strain and then scaling up that strain to generate an appropriate process. The availability of such a process will expand the food, pharma, and polymer applications requiring a purity of more than 99 percent. Read more in the Berkeley Lab Newscenter.

ABPDU Collaborates with Mango Materials Thanks to Small Business Vouchers Pilot

Thanks to the Energy Department’s Small Business Voucher pilot, bioenergy startup Mango Materials is testing new processes of producing renewable plastics that are biodegradable and petroleum-free. Last fall, Mango Materials received a $200,000 voucher to work with Berkeley Lab. Through this partnership, the company gets access to Berkeley’s Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU). Read more on Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website.

ABPDU and Cyclotron Road Collaboration: ‘Mutually beneficial’

As Cyclotron Road, a program launched as a pilot by Berkeley Lab in 2014, continues to hits its stride, Berkeley Lab scientists are also benefiting from this success. In this article Todd Pray, ABPDU’s Program Head, comments on how the collaboration with Visolis has been mutually beneficial. Read more on the Berkeley Lab Newscenter.

Chief Pilot: the ABPDU, where the elite meet to defeat petroleum

Every airline has pilots, but then there’s the Chief Pilot, and in the advanced bioeconomy the chief pilot is known by the ungainly acronym ABPDU, which might as well decode as “All Bioeconomy Processes Developed Upstairs,” but actually stands for the far more modest “Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit.”

–BioFuels Digest, December 2016

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California Assemblymember Richard Bloom Visits ABPDU

The ABPDU welcomed Richard Bloom, Assemblymember of the 50th District of the California State Assembly, on November 21. As Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources and Transportation, Assemblymember Bloom has pushed for increasing renewable energy development and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. The visit to ABPDU served as an opportunity to learn about the latest developments in bioenergy research and bioproducts production.

Lygos Wins Bio-Based Chemical Innovation of the Year Award

Industrial biotechnology company Lygos, Inc. won the “Bio-Based Chemical Innovation of the Year” award at the inaugural Bio-Based Live conference in San Francisco, California, for its biobased method to produce malonic acid, a versatile chemical used to make products ranging from flavorings in food to ultraviolet radiation-resistant coatings. Lygos developed the process and demonstrated pre-pilot-scale production in early 2015 at ABPDU. The “Bio-Based Chemical Innovation of the Year” award is one of only two awards given at Bio-Based Live, which brought together more than 150 bioenergy leaders to focus on the commercialization of bioproducts.

BETO Funding Recipients to Collaborate with ABPDU

BETO is providing $1 million in vouchers to assist five companies advance their energy technologies in Round 2 of the DOE’s Small Business Vouchers Pilot. Of the five companies, three will be collaborating with ABPDU. They are:

  • ZymoChem, Berkeley and Emeryville, California (partnership with LBNL): ZymoChem is engineering microbes to eliminate carbon loss during the production of chemicals, such as adipic acid, from renewable feedstocks by designing completely new biosynthetic pathways. ZymoChem will work with the LBNL Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) to validate E. coli’s capability to tolerate high product concentrations during fermentation and demonstrate the ability to recover purified products for customers to evaluate.
  • HelioBioSys, Woodside, California (partnerships with LBNL and SNL): In order to validate cyanobacteria as a renewable source of sugar for biofuel production, HelioBioSys needs to evaluate growth on a larger scale in outdoor conditions to obtain monomeric sugar types and yields, fermentation suitability, and by-product opportunities. Data generated from this study at the LBNL ABPDU and SNL’s indoor algal testbed facility will improve their existing techno-economic model and improve HelioBioSys’ ability to secure funding for a pilot test facility.
  • Mango Materials, Albany, California (partnerships with LBNL and LANL): Mango Materials has a biogas fermentation process to produce sustainable and biodegradable biopolymers. The company is seeking to improve its ability to cost-effectively separate and de-water polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) from the fermentation broth and non-PHA cell mass. The goal is to further develop a cost-effective separation process for intracellular products with a path forward to scale-up at the LBNL ABPDU.

BETO Announces Laboratory Call for Proposals

The Department of Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has issued a Laboratory Call for Proposals for projects to increase engagement between bioenergy small businesses with high growth potential and the DOE national laboratories by providing access to laboratory assets. Each project can receive up to $40,000 to support BETO’s goals, including production of biofuels compatible with today’s transportation infrastructure as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum-derived fuels. The national labs must submit the proposals, but small businesses may volunteer to be the business partner. Proposals are due July 31, 2016, with expected date of notification of selection by August 31. For more information or to express interest in partnership with ABPDU, write to