SYNC – Carbon fixation through biotechnology
Finland aims at being carbon neutral in 2035 in order to mitigate climate change and safeguard biodiversity. Carbon neutrality is achieved not only by prevention and minimization of CO2 emissions, but in addition through carbon capture and utilization. Various approaches for valorization of CO2 can be perceived, among them biotechnology offers a promising route.
In nature, an abundance of microorganisms –such as bacteria, yeasts, or algae- are capable of fixing CO2 and creating various chemicals from this raw material. With the help of synthetic biology, the range of possible products can be expanded by designing new pathways and optimizing productivity. Exploitation though industrial biotechnology holds the potential to replace a large number of products currently produced from fossil feedstocks, strengthen the circular economy or create new values for our food system.
The range of possible products is immense: chemicals, for example surfactants or organic acids like lactic acid; fuels such as bioethanol or aviation fuels; various materials like bioplastics and nanocellulose; microbial protein, vitamins and pigments of interest in the food and feed industry; or anti-aging compounds relevant in personal care products.
The most promising and relevant approaches for Finnish industry in relation to this topic are gas fermentation and microalgae. In gas fermentation, gaseous CO2 is directly fed to bacteria in liquid suspension, while microalgae use photosynthesis, CO2 and light, to build their biomass and create products.
These technologies still need development and value chains need to be created in order to be ready for market entry – a task that cannot be done by one company alone, but needs synergies and strong collaborations. In the SYNC project, we want to bring companies together to create these partnerships, advance the field of CO2 utilization through biotechnology and make a real contribution to increased sustainability in the Finnish industrial landscape.
This project is part of Neste’s efforts to build an ecosystem around this theme, in relation to the Veturi-funding Neste is receiving from Business Finland. As such, the project is currently under evaluation by Business Finland and we are hoping for a positive decision, so we can start work on this topic in the beginning of 2021.
For more information, contact Dorothee Barth at dorothee.barth(a)vtt.fi