Syngas bioconversion offers a completely new perspective of using biomass in the bioeconomy that is poorly explored. Thermochemical processes are very efficient in carbon usage, very flexible in the initial feedstock, and can handle very heterogeneous feedstocks (lignin included). However, compared to the biochemical synthesis processes, they require very large and complex synthesis steps, using metal catalysts to upgrade and convert syngas to valuable products. This considerably impedes economic feasibility. Thermochemical processes (e.g. relevant to biomass gasification or the steel industry) produce an intermediate mixture of gases that is rich in simple molecules like CO, H2, and CO2. This gas mixture is a fermentable mixture that can be used by microbes to produce virtually any compound. Merging thermochemical production of syngas with fermentations is a radical paradigm shift with significant economic potential. Significant challenges remain before the full potential of this can be realized; systems perspectives need to be considered and novel technology needs to be developed.
We have started on establishing syngas fermentation, which is a significant task. We will need the coming years to continue this work. We are currently establishing facilities and equipment for creating a platform for electrochemically assisted syngas fermentation, which is a completely novel approach. Reactor principles and fermentation strategies will be an initial focus of the work at take place at BIO, where we have established a broad and interdisciplinary team at Chalmers to further develop the concept (Lisbeth Olsson, Yvonne Nygård, Nikolaos Xafenias, Henrik Ström, Oskar Modin,
Henrik Thunman). Significant efforts have been made to establish funding to interdisciplinary projects (i.e. an application to VR strong research environment was submitted in addition to several
smaller applications). The funding from AoA Energy during 2020-2021 will mainly be used for a postdoc at BIO working in the project and senior time in connection with application writing. In addition, we have started a new collaboration between systems and bioprocess modelling concepts, that broaden and integrate different levels (from microorganisms and enzymes to processes to life cycle performance) (involving Carl Johan Franzén, Matty Jansen and Rikard Fornell). The approach will be extended to analyze several sources of variability and uncertainty in the biorefinery system. Part of the funding from AoA Energy during 2020-2021 will mainly be used for a postdoc at BIO working in the project and senior time in connection with application writing to deepen and develop this approach.
Avdelningschef vid Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology
Doktorand vid Industrial Energy Systems and Technologies
Docent vid Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology
Senior forskare vid Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis
Docent vid Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Water Environment Technology
Forskarassistent vid Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology
Senior forskare vid Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences, Fluid Dynamics
Professor vid Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Energy Technology
Gästforskare vid Chalmers, Biology and Biological Engineering, Industrial Biotechnology
Funding Chalmers participation during 2020–
Areas of Advance