Visolis and Ginkgo Bioworks sign bio-based isoprene SAF partnership


Bioengineering company Visolis and cell programming and biosecurity platform Ginkgo Bioworks have signed a partnership in a bid to scale up the production of bio-based isoprene for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF).

Isoprene can be used as an intermediate for high-performance, lower-carbon SAF production. California-based Visolis said it aims to use Ginkgo’s capabilities in strain engineering to improve on existing microbial strains for the commercial production of the key feedstock ingredient for SAF.

Visolis’ production method focuses on providing fuel molecules with higher energy density, lower viscosity and better compatibility with engines than traditional SAF processes. Deepak Dugar, founder and CEO, Visolis said that partnering with Ginkgo will help the firm accelerate its technology.  

With [Ginkgo Bioworks’] large codebase of strains and pathway expertise, which can shorten strain engineering cycles, as well as their scalable foundry capabilities, we believe we can work towards bringing our process to the next level,” he said.

Dugar added that achieving bio-based isoprene production at scale is one of the most challenging biochemical synthesis processes due to the molecule’s combustibility, volatility and reactivity. To combat this, Visolis has developed a process of using a more stable intermediate, making isoprene through a two-step manufacturing process.

“Visolis has demonstrated early success in scaling production of isoprene because of their ingenuity in combining bioengineering and chemical processing,” said Ena Cratsenburg, chief business officer, Ginkgo Bioworks. “This is exactly the kind of positive change that bioengineering can bring to industry.”

Isoprene is also a key monomer used for commercial scale synthetic rubber production. Visolis added that achieving the production of bio-based isoprene at scale represents a significant step toward decarbonising tire manufacturing too.