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Trojan Horse Project

Biorefinery in a Plant

Sandia National Laboratories

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PDF Document PublicationMarket Sheet (720 KB)

Technology Marketing Summary

Sandia researchers have developed a technology that could potentially turn agricultural waste, weeds and other plant products that are typically discarded or destroyed into fuel.  The idea is to create consolidated biorefinery process inside plant cells. 


This project seeks to embed into the plant cells synthetic circuits constructed using parts from extremophilic organisms that can break down the complex carbohydrates.  The unique aspects of Sandia's approach are the rationally engineered enzymes that are prepared and integrated into plant cells by multiple transformation techniques to become "Trojan Horses" during pretreatment conditions. 

  • Significant reduction in the cost and complexity of the processes to deconstruct biomass for biofuels processing
  • Dedicated biofuel crops will not compete with agricultrual crops used for human and/ or animal use
  • Synthetic biology is not being done on food-source plants
  • Enzyme will not be expressed in the grain, it will only be in the stalks and leaves (which is not used for livestock)
Applications and Industries
  • Sustainable production of fuel materials from renewable resources, chemicals, and biopolymers
  • Developing dedicated energy crops with significant advantages in a consolidated bio-processing system
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 9,024,111
Methods and materials for deconstruction of biomass for biofuels production
The present invention relates to nucleic acids, peptides, vectors, cells, and plants useful in the production of biofuels. In certain embodiments, the invention relates to nucleic acid sequences and peptides from extremophile organisms, such as SSO1949 and Ce1A, that are useful for hydrolyzing plant cell wall materials. In further embodiments, the invention relates to modified versions of such sequences that have been optimized for production in one or both of monocot and dicot plants. In other embodiments, the invention provides for targeting peptide production or activity to a certain location within the cell or organism, such as the apoplast. In further embodiments, the invention relates to transformed cells or plants. In additional embodiments, the invention relates to methods of producing biofuel utilizing such nucleic acids, peptides, targeting sequences, vectors, cells, and/or plants.
Sandia National Laboratories 05/05/2015
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
SD# 11391Development - Sandia estimates this technology at approximately TRL 4. Key elements have been demonstrated in a laboratory environment. Available - Various licensing and partnering options are available. Please contact the Intellectual Property Department to discuss.08/02/201110/28/2016

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