Towards the sustainable production of a new generation biodegradable plastics: development of a two-stage fermentation for the efficient conversion of CO2 and H2 into PHA

01 November 2020 → 31 October 2024
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Carbon capture engineering
    • Bioprocessing, bioproduction and bioproducts
    • Fermentation
    • Industrial microbiology
    • Strategic design
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) Two-stage fermentation Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU)
Project description

The environmental burden caused by the ever-increasing use of fossil-based plastics has provoked worldwide concern. Microbially produced polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) appear auspicious candidates to replace those polluting conventional plastics. Their advantageous plastic-like properties and excellent biodegradability make PHA attractive for application in various fields. However, large-scale PHA commercialization is currently hampered by its high production cost and suffers from a substantial carbon footprint. In this context, carbon dioxide (CO2) is suggested as an alternative feedstock. This innovative approach aims to serve a double cause: (1) sustainable bioplastic production, and (2) abatement of CO2 emissions by microbial carbon capture and utilization (CCU). We will study a novel strategy for CO2-derived PHA production consisting of a two-stage fermentation process with acetate as the linking molecule. Although the latter strategy avoids the energetic inefficient Calcin cycle and the industrial relevance is eminent, several unsolved challenges impede the applicability to date. This project aims to elaborate on these issues by scrutunizing the fixation of CO2 as well as the production of PHA and in particular integrating them into one continuous process. As such, we aim to develop a sustainable technology to produce PHA competitive in economic, environmental, and performance-related terms.