05-Jan-2012 - BRAIN Biotechnology Research And Information Network AG

Flue gas as a raw material – Newly discovered microorganisms utilise CO2 particularly well

Tailor-made specialist micro-organisms directly “feed” on CO2-containing flue gases from lignitefired power stations and even grow at temperatures of 60 degrees centigrade. This is the very promising initial result of a research project run in co-operation by RWE Power and BRAIN AG.

The electricity producer and the biotechnology company kicked off their co-operation at the Niederaussem power station exactly two years ago. The joint project aims at converting CO2 into biomass or directly into secondary raw materials with the help of micro-organisms bred to explore innovative CO2 conversion and synthesis pathways. Ultimately, biomass and industrially usable products emerge such as new bio-materials, bio-plastics and intermediate chemical products. Potential applications are being investigated for these products, e.g. as construction and insulation materials or in the production of fine and speciality chemicals - or possibly even
bulk chemicals.

Researchers at BRAIN screened their own BioArchive as well as samples taken straight from the flue of the Niederaussem BoA 1 power station1 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 was determined by the genetic characterization of the micro-organisms.

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