Metabolix will use the DOE grant to continue research of engineered switchgrass to provide a sustainable alternative to petroleum feedstocks.

The company said it has advanced its biomass biorefinery platform using switchgrass for several years.

As per the new grant agreement, Metabolix intends to attempt to further enhance expression of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) in switchgrass to allow co-production of chemicals and densified biomass.

In addition to attempting to produce densified biomass with transportation and fuel properties closely matching coal, Metabolix also plans to further develop and scale-up its selective thermolysis process.

The thermolysis process utilizes moderate temperature to recover a new platform chemical directly from PHA containing switchgrass.

The platform chemical, crotonic acid, can be readily converted through simple known chemical conversion steps to a range of commodity chemical intermediates including butanol and propylene, the company said.

Metabolix is a bioscience company engaged in developing clean, sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy.