Johns Hopkins
Engineering Design Day

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Johns Hopkins Engineering community is creating a better future, translating theoretical knowledge into real-world solutions.


Join us on Tuesday, May 4 for a virtual celebration showcasing student innovation and creativity at Hopkins Engineering annual Design Day!

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Design Day Projects


Team: Blue Jay Laboratories

Program: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Certain types of cheeses can take anywhere from months to years to be produced. The normal cheese-ripening process is slow, expensive, and unpredictable. To overcome this consequential lag, cheesemakers rely on techniques that can be expensive themselves, as well as unsafe, difficult to use, and often ineffective.
CheeseAge is a freeze-dried bacterial powder that accelerates the cheese-aging process. The product allows for the development of the desirable ripened flavor in half as much time. CheeseAge relies on the molecule cyclic AMP (cAMP) to accomplish this feat. The bacteria used in CheeseAge has been genetically modified with our ChA01 plasmid to upregulate its production of the adenylyl cyclase enzyme. This increased production allows for greater quantities of cAMP to be generated from ATP. cAMP then serves as a transcription factor that induces increased expression of catabolic genes, which lead to the breakdown of macromolecules responsible for the aged-cheese flavor. No other products on the market today implement this technique of cheese-aging, making CheeseAge a novel product that can also be used in combination with other aging techniques for even more effective aging.
The product will be manufactured using a sequence of bioreactors, purification systems, and freeze-drying equipment. CheeseAge faces a $650 million startup market and possesses the potential to provide significant cost reduction to cheese manufacturers. Due to its effectiveness and desirability, we have priced one kilogram of the CheeseAge powder at $17,000. We intend to spend one year on additional research and development before beginning the manufacture and sale of our product. Considering our development, capital, operating, and business costs, we estimate that CheeseAge will break even in cash flow after four years and will reach an NPV of $50 million after only 10 years.

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