Transforming CO2 into useful chemicals

New bio-production routes utilizing micro-organisms mostly focus on biomass-based production. These processes such as bio-ethanol production offer an alternative for fossil fuel based production, but require a considerable input of water, nutrients and arable land. CO2, being available in plenty, is considered to be a key and cheap feedstock for biochemical production.

Our approach, microbial electrosynthesis, allows the direct conversion of CO2 into valuable biochemicals, such as acetate, using electricity and electro-active carbon fixating bacteria. It eliminates several of the limitations associated with conventional and algal bio-production routes. The bio-production in the bio-electrochemical system is then coupled to the extraction of the product through a membrane to enable in situ production and extraction, using electricity as driving force.

The coupling of the direct conversion of CO2 to the desired product and the simultaneous electrochemical extraction is an efficient and cost-effective strategy for bio-production, which does not require arable land and uses sustainable, surplus electricity as energy source.


Prof. Korneel Rabaey