Motivation / SYNENERGENE cooperation

At the beginning of our project we were faced with topics next to the wetlab work. These include different purposes like the industrial application, the ethical and social impact and possible biosafety problems of our project. We were discussing about those themes a lot and thought who we might get in contact with. We wanted to constructively discuss our project with different experts and stakeholders. After some time we found the SYNENERGENE cooperation on the main page of iGEM. SYNENERGENE represents the interface between research and ethics. This project is supported by many different companies. We got to a decision soon and applied for the project.
Our main target for the cooperation was to establish contacts next to the lab work and think about our discussed problems on another level.

Short project summary

Within our project we aim to use regenerative energy sources and carbon dioxide to produce bulk chemicals, e.g isobutanol. This system will be executed in Escherichia coli. An electricity source will be used to generate a current which reduces a mediator. The mediator is taken up by the bacteria where the mediator gets oxidized. The energy of this reaction will be further utilized to bind atmospheric carbon dioxide. One of the resulting intermediates is pyruvate. In our project pyruvate will be used to produce isobutanol.

To summarize the following scenarios

For the next weeks we aim to contact different firms and stakeholders who should help us to get insights in their daily expertise. We wanted to use their knowledge, their suggestions and literature research to solve our problems.

  • What:
    • A biological production of bulk chemicals done in three modules. Frist electricity is used for the growth. Secondly carbon dioxide is bound with supplied electrical energy. The third module produces a product like isobutanol with an intermediate of the carbon fixation.
  • Why:
    • The project addresses several problems. A main problem is the transport and storage of electricity. We aim to convert excess of electricity into isobutanol which is easier to store than electricity. The second problem is an increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which results in global warming. The target is to use this amount as a useful carbon source. Another problem is the depletion of crude oil which we engage by producing a fuel additive.
  • Where:
    • Energy producing sites: Wind engine, hydroelectric power stations, solar energy power stations, …
    • During driving production: Cars, ships, space stations, …
    • Product dependent sites: varnish producers, emollient producers, …
  • Who:
    • Many different stakeholders are engaged by this project. On the one hand there are all car drivers or electricity users. On the other hand there are industrial production site employees
  • When:
    • The system can be used whenever electrical energy is available.
  • How:
    • The system can be settled next to wind parks or mounted on the hull of a space station
    • A new construction plan has to be made for cars