Materials science to unlock the power of biology

Over billions of years, nature has designed the most elegant solutions for transforming molecules. At Microvi, we take the most intriguing mechanisms of nature and use them to enable unprecedented cost savings in the water, wastewater, and chemical industries. Around the world, our technologies are helping millions of people achieve our shared goal of a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable planet.

"Biology is the most ancient and most powerful technology that we know of. 

It can do things that no other man-made machine or synthetic chemistry can even begin to approach in terms of the materials it can create and the functions that it can do."

~ Alicia Jackson, Fmr. Deputy Director, DARPA

The Science of MicroNiche Engineering™ (MNE)

MicroNiche Engineering combines materials science and microbiology in a way the world has never seen before. As our exclusive, in silico development platform, we use MNE to create natural habitats, or microniches, which optimize the performance of organisms in industrial bioprocesses. The outcome is remarkably simple. Nearly any organism for nearly any bioprocess — deployed in the versatile format of an MNE biocatalyst composite. 




In natural microbiomes, such as soil, organisms have evolved over billions of years in close associations, or communities. Since the advent of molecular analysis, an unprecedented diversity of organisms and metabolic pathways have been discovered. Mechanisms like quorum sensing, altruistic behaviors, horizontal gene transfer, and cryptic growth help make organism communities much more than the sum of their parts. Through MNE, we are able to design, optimize and deploy organism communities to take advantage of these and other mechanisms — with surprisingly novel and impactful results.




MNE is based on the use of materials science as a vector to influence the autonomous behavior and organization of organism communities and pathways. The organisms sense the properties of the microenvironments created using MNE. Because MNE enhances natural elements of synergy between organisms, it provides a super-dense, stable, and robust population. The materials used in MNE can also provide functional advantages, such as enabling the rapid transport of substrates and products, modulating the concentrations of toxic compounds, and responding in real-time to abrupt changes in operation. 

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Every MNE biocatalyst is designed with the end-use process in mind. In many cases, MNE biocatalysts are "drop-in" to the reactor or vessel in an existing infrastructure. The composites themselves can take a variety of forms, including spheres, sheets, hollow fibers, and other geometric configurations suitable for the application. The industrial application of MNE biocatalysts is similarly flexible as its compositions. Our initial focus has been on the water and chemical industries to convert a number of flexible inputs into valuable outputs. These include producing clean water from ground and surface water, recovering valuable nutrients like phosphorus from wastewater, and converting a variety of solid and gaseous feedstocks into fuels, chemical intermediates, and specialty chemicals.