Thursday, July 25, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Helping Your Equipment Stand Firm Against those Cold Beatings

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has officially awarded Gingko Bioworks a contract worth 6 million to achieve DARPA’s objectives under its new Ice Control for cold Environments (ICE) program. In case you aren’t aware, DARPA’s ICE program is an initiative geared towards developing new materials that can control the physical properties of ice crystals. The idea behind conceiving such a mechanism, though, is to facilitate operations in extreme cold weather environments, something which can otherwise pose a variety of risks to both personnel health and critical equipment. But how exactly will Ginkgo aid the program’s case? Well, the company, along with Netrias, Cambium, and consultant Dr. Ran Drori, is looking to develop a set of novel biologically-sourced and inspired materials that can, on their part, leverage biological adaptations to cold environments. To offer a more comprehensive insight, Gingko’s team will enable the sustainable production of novel de-icing proteins with ice-modulating behaviors so to improve operational efficacy in extreme cold weather environments. This involves leveraging its metagenomic discovery and de novo computational technology to design, screen, and optimize a library of novel proteins that can demonstrate ice-modulating behaviors. Hence, during the discovery phase, predictive models will be used to iterate Design-Build-Test-Optimize loops. Such an approach should, in turn, maximize discovery of proteins with ice inhibition, induction, and low-adhesion properties. Beyond the discovery phase, Ginkgo will selectively screen promising proteins, throughout the process, with further high-performance and application-specific characterization to inform the final down selection.

“We are honored to be selected by DARPA to work on this program to facilitate sustained cold weather operations. Building high-throughput libraries of candidate proteins is possible thanks to Ginkgo’s unique and differentiated data assets. Biology offers us a myriad of ways to adapt to our environment, and synthetic biology allows us to tap into nature’s capabilities and apply them to our own needs. We look forward to the products that the ICE program generates, which may enable enhanced safety and proficiency across various use cases,” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks.

Markedly enough, all the material set aside for this effort will be designed as per the specifications established by U.S. Department of Defense. After the designing and development bit is done, though it should be ready to accommodate various commercial applications. For instance, the material in question can make up a lens coating to prevent frost formation for a range of optics applications, ranging from satellites and high altitude imaging instruments to security and even wildlife cameras. On the other hand, automotive and aviation industries also stand to gain big time from those de-icing products that facilitate safe operations in icy conditions.

Founded in 2009, Gingko Bioworks’ rise stems from using biology to develop products for a range of commercial applications. At present, the company’s portfolio stretches across disciplines like cultured ingredients, biological engineering, metabolic engineering, gmos, synthetic biology, programming cells, automation, digital technology, and more. Owing to that, Gingko is able to help its partners develop sustainable key ingredients for vaccines, grow crops that rely less on fossil fuel-based fertilizers, manufacture plant-based meat that tastes like the real thing, and discover materials for the next generation of circular fashion etc.