Could bacteria help recycle greenhouse gases in the future?

(EurActiv, 20 Jan 2020) Could bacteria assist in the recycling of greenhouse gases in the future instead of releasing them into the atmosphere? European researchers are working to reverse the metabolism of intestinal bacteria that feed on CO2 so that they form products that can be used at an industrial level. EURACTIV Germany reports.

In 2018, Germany emitted 800 million tons of CO2 into the environment. But considering that climate neutrality should be the goal for the future, ways will have to be found to avoid such emissions or make use of them. But how could this happen?

One option would be to make new chemical products using the CO2.

The US American company LanzaTech is already doing this in a process unlike any other by using waste gases from the steel industry to produce the biofuel ethanol.

“Instead of letting CO2 emissions smoke out of the chimney, we collect them and ferment them in our bioreactor, just like with the production of beer. We then make ethanol from it,” company boss Jennifer Holmgren said when explaining the gas fermentation process.

Bacteria are “trained” to produce substances from CO2

So far, ethanol, which is being sold as E10 at petrol stations, has been produced from agricultural biomass. The problem is that the energy crops required for this purpose, such as corn or rapeseed, require a lot of space and are usually grown in vast monocultures.

In 2018, almost 21% of Germany’s arable land, or a total of 2.45 million hectares, were used for biomass production – meaning this space could not be used for food production.

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EurActiv, 20 Jan 2020: Could bacteria help recycle greenhouse gases in the future?