Office for Technology Commercialization

Biotransformation with Redox Balance

Technology #20100174

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
Biotranformation with Redox Balance ProcessShewanella oneidensis in BiotransformationsBiological Pathway
Jeffrey Gralnick, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, BioTechnology Institute
External Link (
Daniel Bond, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology
External Link (
Managed By
Larry Micek
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-9568
Patent Protection


PCT Patent Application WO/2012/037123

US Patent Pending 2014-0004578
Files and Attachments
Biotransformation Term Sheet [PDF]

Biotransformation by Biological Pathways Results in Redox Balance

Biotransformation occurs when one chemical is transformed into another using biological pathways. Unfortunately, biotransformation results in electron imbalances, also referred to as a redox balance, which results in lower yields because the electrons produced will crowd out the feedstock molecules and shift the equilibrium against production. To deal with this, manufacturers typically use acids, gasses, redox mediators, or alcohols to soak up electrons which divert carbon feedstock to chemicals that are removed from the reaction. These undesirable side products must be purified away.

MN-IP Try and Buy
  • Trial fee is $5,000 for a six month license
  • $30,000 conversion fee (TRY to BUY)
  • No patent costs
  • Royalty rate of 3% (2% for MN company)
  • Royalty free for first $1M in sales

** View the Term Sheet **
** Contact Larry Micek for specific details. **

Redox Balance Improved by Electrode that Removes Electrons

A new type of bioreactor would use engineered microbes to interface with an electrode. Extra electrons would be diverted to an electrode (which produces a small amount of electricity), rather than being utilized by the microbe to make contaminating side products. Alternatively, the technology can be used to add electrons to oxidized feedstocks to produce higher yields of end-products.

Biotransformation of Carbon Compounds

The technology would permit unique biological transformation of carbon compounds which are impossible to generate using traditional microbial fermentation processes due to the redox imbalance. It would also increase the type and range of products that could be made via biotransformation, increase the efficiency of feedstock utilization, and decrease separation costs that are required when microbes produce complex mixtures of products.


  • Allows extremely efficient use of carbon feedstock--every starting carbon molecule is transformed into end product (i.e. none of the carbon feedstock is “wasted” by converting it to other side-products)
  • Enables production of products that were previously impossible to generate using biotransformation methods, because of redox balance issues.
  • Eliminates the need for expensive co-factors or additional of oxygen during fermentation.
  • The platform is flexible and can use a variety of starting products to make a range of end products.
  • Produces electricity (albeit small amounts)

Product Details The technology includes the method of using electrodes to improve the efficiency of a biotransformed feedstock.

Fulfillment Details Licensee will receive rights to practice the intellectual property (patent application) for the purposes of developing and manufacturing a commercial product.

Phase of Development Technology is demonstrated at laboratory scale with Shewanella.