C1Bio – Biocatalytic upcycling of CO2 into added-value chemicals

C1Bio Summary


Sustainable catalytic processes for CO2 conversion to platform chemicals and novel materials

The recent years have seen a rapid rise in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide from 393 ppm in 2010 to 416 ppm in May 2020. Unfortunately, this rising trend is set to continue due to global surge in demand for energy and materials from fossil sources. Some of the developed countries, including Sweden, have tightened their environmental policies and set ambitious targets to alleviate the drastic impacts of climate change. Sweden is committed to a carbon neutral society by 2030 and having net negative CO2 emissions by 2045. To reach these goals, new solutions are needed for the capture of CO2 at the site of emission and its subsequent sequestration.

The C1Bio project funded by Vinnova, Sweden’s innovation agency is set to develop new catalytic processes that enable conversion of CO2 to platform chemicals amenable to utilization in the production of in bio-based materials. Unique to this project, we combine expertise in electrochemical, biochemical, and organochemical catalysis to achieve CO2 fixation in value-added materials.

“Sustainability is the core concept of the project and we develop technologies that can utilize solar energy to reduce CO2 to C1 chemicals, such as formate, which can be subsequently valorized.”, Adam Slabon from Stockholm University describes.

Per-Olof Syrén, who is the project leader at KTH, is excited about the solutions expected from the project. “Biocatalysis is a key enabler for the production of biomaterials and it is exciting to work at the frontier of alternative green technologies”, Syrén tells.

One of the most promising new material precursors is lignin that is an abundant component of renewable wood biomass. Mika Sipponen and his group are exploring new ways to use lignin in sustainable materials. “Lignin is a complex material and many of its properties need to be improved. In this sense the catalytic processes are attractive options to unlock use of lignin in value-added applications”, Mika Sipponen from Stockholm University adds.

The project started in January 2020 and is a collaboration between KTH, Stockholm University, and RISE Processum.

Life is easy to identify, but remarkably hard to define. One fundamental property of living organisms is the order they create in their environment through evolved metabolic pathways, organized structures and self-replication which are basal energy-consuming processes dependent on enzymes that accelerate the chemistry of life up to 10^26-fold. Fundamental and organizational tasks, for instance energy conversion and information processing, would take millions – or even billions – of years in the absence of enzymes, thus representing timescales that would be incompatible with life.

The Syrén lab works with computer simulations and bioinformatics, as well as experimental biotechnology and protein engineering to enhance our fundamental understanding of enzymes, their mechanisms and evolution at the atomistic level. Towards reaching this goal we bridge fundamental chemical principles with state-of-the art biotechnology. Through transdisciplinary scientific methods we are developing novel enzyme engineering strategies for applications within biopolymer science and for the generation of superior biopharmaceuticals and fine chemicals from renewable sources.

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