Biotechnological utilization of CO2

Converting carbon dioxide with microorganisms into biomass or directly to make valuable materials – that is the object of our research cooperation with the biotechnology company BRAIN. The aim is to breed microorganisms and use them to explore innovative CO2 conversion and synthesis pathways. The CO2-containing flue gases from lignite power stations are to be the "feed" for these "designer microorganisms".

BRAIN is a leading company in white biotechnology and has access to previously unknown microorganisms and to millions of novel enzymes and synthesis pathways. Building up on this "toolbox of Nature", synthetic biotechnologies permit the design of microorganisms for developing novel ways toward products and materials made of CO2. Our cooperation develops and researches such novel microorganisms. The point about this development is that the microorganisms, thanks to new and optimized metabolism pathways ("pathway engineering"), bind more CO2 more efficiently than their original precursors.

Ultimately, biomass and industrially usable products emerge, like new biomaterials, bioplastics and interim chemical products, for which possible applications are being investigated, eg as construction and insulation material, and in the production of fine and special chemicals, but also bulk chemicals. Besides R&D activities at BRAIN in Zwingenberg, trials are run at the Coal Innovation Centre, examining the growth behaviour of microorganisms in the original lignite flue gas.