LanzaTech is a pioneering synthetic biology company in gas fermentation technology. LanzaTech provides new innovative and economic routes to the production of ethanol, jet fuel, and high-value chemicals from gas streams including industrial off-gases from steel and alloy mills petroleum refineries, petrochemical complexes, and gas processing facilities.

 

Recently, researchers at LanzaTech in Illinois, US have engineered an amazing new bacteria called Bacterium Clostridium autoethanogenum. The purpose of the bacteria is to transform carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into useful chemicals like acetone and isopropanol. These chemicals are used in paint remover and hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and rubbing alcohol. Also, these chemicals are used in acrylic glass and polypropylene plastic production.

 

For the production of acetone and isopropanol also known as isopropyl alcohol(IPA), we need a significant amount of resources. These chemicals require a huge amount of fossil fuels for their creation.

“Our motivation was to find some feedstock that’s abundant,” Michael Köpke, the director of synthetic biology at LanzaTech.

“If you want to be cost-competitive for such commodity chemicals, it’s hard if you start from something like sugars, which already is traded as commodities. I think we wanted to have something that’s low-cost [and] that’s a waste,” Köpke told Inverse.

The cell
The cell becomes autotrophic after being modified. Autotroughs are organisms that can produce their own food from the substances available in their surroundings

The scientists published their findings and observations earlier this week in Nature Biotechnology. The company uses CO and CO2 to create useful chemicals that are carbon negative. Thus, their innovative process can decrease the amount of carbon dioxide funneled into the atmosphere. Carbon Dioxide is a major greenhouse gas responsible for heat and climate change.

Now, the researchers have found a better and cleaner way to produce acetone and isopropanol that can help to reduce the excessive distribution of Carbon Dioxide from massive sources to the atmosphere. Yeast eats sugar and produces ethanol in its fermentation techniques. The engineered bacterium can eat CO and CO2 to produce acetone and isopropanol. In the first form, the bacterium was only able to create ethanol. Now in the latest form, they engineered using synthetic biology, the bacterium can produce acetone or IPA.

Acetone and IPA are just the beginning. “What’s exciting is that we think that these same tools can also be leveraged to adapt a wide range of commodity chemicals to this carbon negative manufacturing approach,” said Michael Jewett, a chemical and biological engineering professor at Northwestern University.

 

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