Bioeconomy Chemicals

Plastic precursors from CO2 by using microbes and electricity

Re-use of CO2 is obviously a task with immense environmental importance, but it is also techno- economically challenging. On the positive side, CO2 from flue gas or directly from the atmosphere is abundantly available as a carbon source for production of chemicals.

Factory leaf

The direct utilization of CO2 can be achieved through a bioelectrosynthetic system that converts sunlight to electricity and electricity to H2 via water electrolysis; coupled with autotrophic H2-oxidizing Knallgas bacteria fixing CO2 in a dark bioprocess.

Bacteria can produce a wide range of products from the assimilated CO2. The overall stoichiometry of CO2 fixation in the bioelectrosynthetic system is the same as in natural photosynthetic systems, but the bioelectrosynthetic system is not limited by direct access to sunlight, and uses land area more efficiently.

VTT is converting CO2 to acrylic acid

An additional feature of the approach being developed by VTT is that water electrolysis is performed inside a bioreactor. The generated hydrogen is used directly by the microbes improving also the safety of the process. The aim is to convert CO2 to acrylic acid using a genetically modified organism. The global oil-based production of acrylic acid is seven million tonnes with applications in paints, coatings, adhesives, diapers, resins, cleaners and elastomers.

The development at VTT is at its early stage and currently aims at improving the growth of the organism in the bioelectrosynthetic system and improving the productivity of the precursor by genetic engineering of the organism.

Further information: Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, juha-pekka.pitkanen@vtt.fi, +358403569758

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