Office for Technology Commercialization

Antifouling Agent from Biosynthesized Acrylate Monomers

Technology #20160324

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Image Gallery
BiofoulingAnti-fouling AgentZwitterionic
Kechun Zhang, PhD
Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
External Link (
Managed By
Larry Micek
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-9568
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed
Files and Attachments
Non-confidential Summary [PDF]

Zwitterionic Acrylate Monomers from Biosynthetic Pathway

A new biosynthetic pathway uses E. coli to synthesize acrylate monomers for potential use as anti-fouling agents. The zwitterionic monomer 2-acetylamidoacrylate has the potential to prevent biofouling in virtuallyall anti-biofouling polymer applications. Metabolic engineering first produces serine, which is then converted and dehydrated to 2-acetylamidoacrylate, which is then polymerized and hydrolyzed into a zwitterionic material.

Lower Cost, No Toxicity

Current solutions to biofouling suffer from high cost, low efficacy, and cause environmental damage. Using synthetic zwitterionic materials to make antifouling coatings requires complicated chemical synthesis and is cost-prohibitive for large-scale applications. Acrylate polymers are expensive to synthesize in bulk, and biocides are toxic to marine life. This technology produces zwitterionic acrylate monomers using a designed biological pathway in E. coli. The biosynthetic process effectively generates molecules with a unique combination of C/H/O/N inaccessible by conventional chemical synthesis, at lower cost than current methods and with no toxicity.


  • Biosynthetic process in Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Zwitterionic acrylate monomers of varying carbon length
  • Lower cost than current zwitterionic materials
  • Functionally superior
  • Non-toxic
  • Expected to prevent adhesion


  • Antifouling coatings industry
  • Marine coatings - shipping and/or naval applications
  • Implanted medical devices
  • Household plumbing


Concept. Initial pathway assembled in E. coli; 2‑acetylamidoacrylate monomer synthesized at 1 g/L in shake flask experiments and polymerization of zwitterionic monomer has been demonstrated.  Antifouling properties need to be demonstrated.