Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ancient biology meets modern ingenuity


July 28, 2017

The average person might struggle to get excited about bacterium found in rabbit droppings – but it's potentially a knight in shining armour for our planet.

Researchers at The University of Queensland's Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and US company LanzaTech have developed a computer model that harnesses ancient microorganisms for an environmentally sound industrial waste conversion method.

AIBN researcher Dr Esteban Marcellin said LanzaTech, a gas fermentation company, was particularly interested in a bacterium called Clostridium autoethanogenum, originally discovered in rabbit droppings.

"LanzaTech uses this bacterium (which falls under the broader class of acetogens) as part of its carbon capture and reuse process, whereby industrial waste gases such as steel mill exhaust are converted into useful by-products like ethanol," Dr Marcellin said.

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