Bacteria upcycle carbon waste into valuable chemicals

Synthetic biologists have designed bacteria to convert carbon waste into valuable chemicals. A carbon negative approach has the potential to contribute to a net zero emissions economy. Credit: Justin Muir

Bacteria are known to break down lactose to make yogurt and break down sugar to make beer. Currently, researchers led by Northwestern University and Lanza Tech are using bacteria to waste carbon dioxide (CO).2) To make valuable industrial chemicals.

In a new pilot study, researchers have succeeded in demonstrating their ability to select, design, optimize and convert CO strains.2 Place in acetone and isopropanol (IPA).

This new gas fermentation process not only removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, but also avoids their use Fossil fuel, Usually required to produce acetone and IPA.After performing a lifecycle analysis, the team discovered that carbon negative platforms could be reduced. Greenhouse gas emissions 160% compared to traditional processes when widely adopted.

The study will be published in the journal on Monday (February 21st) Nature biotechnology..

“The accelerating climate crisis, coupled with rapid population growth, poses some of the most urgent challenges for humankind, all associated with unabated CO emissions and accumulation.2 “Over the entire biosphere,” said Michael Jewett, co-chief author of Northwestern University, “in partnership with biology to make what you need, when you need it, where you need it, sustainable and renewable.” Start using available CO by leveraging your ability to create2 To transform the bioeconomy. “

Jewett is Professor Walter P. Murphy of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Northwestern University School of Engineering, and Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology. He led the research in collaboration with LanzaTech researchers Michael Koepke and Ching Leang.

The required industrial bulk and platform chemicals, acetone and IPA are found almost everywhere, with a combined global market of over $ 10 billion. Widely used as a disinfectant and preservative, IPA is one of the foundations of two World Health Organization-recommended disinfectant formulations that are highly effective in killing the SARS-CoV-2 virus.And acetone is a solvent for many plastics Synthetic fiberThinning polyester resin, cleaning tools and nail polish remover.

These chemicals are very useful, but they are produced from fossil resources and lead to CO, which warms the climate.2 Emissions.

To make these chemicals more sustainable, researchers have developed a new gas fermentation process. They started with Clostridium autoethanogenum, an anaerobic bacterium designed by LanzaTech.Researchers then used synthetic biology tools to reprogram the bacteria to ferment CO.2 To make acetone and IPA.

“These innovations were guided by a cell-free strategy that led to both strain engineering and pathway enzyme optimization, reducing production time by more than a year,” says Jewtett.

The Northwestern and LanzaTech teams believe that the strains and fermentation processes developed will lead to industrial scale. This approach could also be applied to create a streamlined process for producing other valuable chemicals.

“This discovery is a major step forward in avoiding climate disasters,” said Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “Today, most of our commodity chemicals come solely from new fossil resources such as oil, natural gas and coal. Acetone and IPA are two examples with a total global market of $ 10 billion. The developed acetone and IPA pathways are other new products by closing the carbon cycle for use in multiple industries. “

The title of this study is “Carbon Negative, Scaled Production” acetone Isopropanol by gas fermentation. ”

Researchers say artificial bacteria are promising for the sustainable biofuel industry

For more information:
Michael Jewett, Carbon Negative Production of Acetone and Isopropanol by Gas Fermentation on an Industrial Pilot Scale, Nature biotechnology (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41587-021-01195-w..

Quote: Bacteria upcycle carbon waste into valuable chemicals (February 21, 2022).

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Bacteria upcycle carbon waste into valuable chemicals

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