Bacteria are known for breaking down lactose to make yogurt and sugar to make beer. Now researchers led by Northwestern University and LanzaTech have harnessed Bacteria to break down waste carbon dioxide (CO2) to make valuable industrial chemicals. In a new pilot study, the researchers selected, engineered, and optimized a Bacteria strain and then successfully demonstrated its ability to convert CO2 into acetone and isopropanol (IPA).
This new gas fermentation process removes greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, it also avoids using fossil fuels, which are typically needed to generate acetone and IPA. After performing life-cycle analysis, the team found the carbon-negative platform could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 160% as compared to conventional processes if widely adopted. The study will be published on Monday in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Jewett is the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and director of the Center for Synthetic Biology. He co-led the study with Michael Koepke and Ching Leang, both researchers at LanzaTech.