Carbon Capture Microbial CO2 Conversion for Carbon Capture Project

Editor: Dominik Stephan

Turning waste into value: A co-operation of biotechnology research company Brain and the energy provider RWE investigates the potential of specially tailored micro-organisms to capture and convert CO2- from a German power station.

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Scientist at the metagenome library of Brain. During researches on the organisms within the flue of the Niederaussem power plant, researchers discovered several previously undescribed species, the company claims. (Piture: Brain)
Scientist at the metagenome library of Brain. During researches on the organisms within the flue of the Niederaussem power plant, researchers discovered several previously undescribed species, the company claims. (Piture: Brain)

Essen & Zwingenberg/Germany – Tailor-made specialist micro-organisms directly “feed” on CO2-containing flue gases from lignite-fired power stations and even grow at temperatures of 60 degrees centigrade. This is a promising initial result of a research project run in co-operation by RWE Power and the German biotechnology research company Brain.

The joint project of energy provider RWE and the bio-tech firm began with a co-operation at the Niederaussem power station exactly two years ago: Aiming at converting CO2 into biomass or directly into secondary raw materials, the two partners search for innovative CO2 conversion and synthesis pathways with the help of micro-organisms.

These researches could help to turn these industrial waste into biomass and industrially usable products such as new bio-materials, bio-plastics and intermediate chemical products. Such substances could have great potentials for theproduction of construction and insulation materials or for fine and speciality chemicals - possibly even bulk chemicals - the companies expect.

“Pioneering In The Search for Biotechnological CO2 Conversion Bears First Fruit”

For this purpose, researchers at Brain screened their own BioArchive as well as samples taken straight from the flue of the Niederaussem BoA 1 power station for micro-organisms able to grow in flue gas conditions utilising CO2. All in all, they took a closer look at more than 3,000 micro-organisms. Only one out of every three qualified for further investigation. In a next step, the scientists identified and characterised the most efficient utilisers of the greenhouse gas. By now, the researchers have selected 29 candidates with particularly convincing growth properties – of which ten were completely unknown or hitherto undescribed as it was diescovered during the genetic characterization.

“Our pioneering work in the search for biotechnological CO2 conversion solutions bears first fruit – we continue to lead the efforts to protect the climate,” underscores Dr Johannes Heithoff, Head of Research and Development at RWE Power. “We are thoroughly convinced by the results delivered by Brain’s research team in co-operation with our power station experts. As a consequence, we will expand the research programme.” So far, more than two million EUR have been invested in this research program.

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