The ENGICOIN project – Engineered microbial factories for CO2 exploitation in an integrated waste treatment platform- has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.
ENGICOIN aims at the development of three new microbial factories (MFs), integrated in an organic waste anaerobic digestion (AD) platform, based on engineered strains exploiting CO2 sources and renewable solar radiation or H2 for the production of value-added chemical , namely:
MF.1) the cyanobacteria Synechocystis to produce lactic acid from either biogas combustion flue gases or pure and costless CO2 streams from biogas-to-biomethane purification.
MF.2) the aerobic and toxic metal tolerant Ralstonia eutropha to produce PHA bioplastics from biogas combustion flue gases and complementary carbon sources derived from the AD digestate.
MF.3) the anaerobic Acetobacterium woodii to produce acetone from the CO2 stream from biogas-to-biomethane purification.
High process integration will be guaranteed by taking advantage of low-grade heat sources (e.g. from cogenerative biogas-fired engine or a tailored PEM electrolyser), exploitable side gas streams (e.g. O2 from electrolysis, CO2 from biomethane purification), low-price electricity produced during night-time by a biogas-fired-engine cogeneration unit or even intensified operation conditions (e.g. up to 10 bars pressure for the anaerobic acetone production bioreactor; led-integrated photobioreactor). This is an essential feature, alongside with the high conversion rates enabled by synthetic and systems biology on the above microorganisms, to achieve competitive selling prices for the key target products (1.45 €/kg for lactic acid; 3.5 €/kg for PHA; 1 €/kg for acetone). Notwithstading the key application platform (anaerobic biorefinery based on organic wastes) the innovative production processes developed have a great exploitation potential in other application contexts: flue gases from different combustion appliances (e.g. cement kilns), alcoholic fermentation CO2 streams (e.g. lignocelluosic biorefineries, breweries), etc.
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Il ruolo di Envipark
Envipark acts as linked third party to ACEA, contributing with its facilities and expertise to experiments on bacterial consortia especially dedicated to a first stage of anaerobic digestion, aimed at the simultaneous production of H2 (in a nearly 1:1 mixture with CO2), and volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in the digestate. Although the pilot activities (500L reactors) was conducted by Envipark with the aim of increasing the H2 production and so with no particular attention in modifying process parameters to VFAs production, the productivities of VFA were absolutely significant: acetic acid rises up to 4300 mg/kgdig; propionic acid rises up to 3500 mg/kgdig; formic acid rises up to 300 mg/kgdig; butyric acid rises up to 15000 mg/kgdig; valeric acid rises up to 9500 mg/kgdig; caproic acid rises up to 4800 mg/kgdig; heptanoic acid rises up to 2100 mg/kgdig.