The industrial sector takes a significant toll to the environment, with more than 50% of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia deriving from industrial activities. Most of these emissions are composed of carbon dioxide (CO2) which typically ends up in the atmosphere. A special group of microorganisms found in many anaerobic environments and called acetogens are able of using this waste carbon to make valuable liquid chemicals such as carboxylic acids and alcohols. To do that, acetogens need a source of chemical energy such as hydrogen.
This project aims to develop an innovative biotechnology – based on acetogens and powered by green electricity – to enable the conversion of CO2 available in waste gases into liquid chemicals at commercially viable rates. This will create strong economic drivers for carbon-intensive industries to implement CO2 capture and utilisation, by significantly increasing the value of otherwise wasted CO2. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this project will substantially advance the scientific knowledge in this exciting and underexploited area of biological carbon recycling. 


Project Outcomes

The key objective of this project is to create a CO2-based biotechnology creating high-value chemical products from waste gases. This will provide economic incentives and critical support to carbon intensive industries as they transition towards sustainable production, whilst contributing to achieve national targets of emission reduction.

Project members

Dr Bernardino Virdis

Senior Research Fellow
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Associate Professor Shihu Hu

ARC Mid-Career Industry Fellow
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Dr Xueqin Zhang

Research Fellow
Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology

Ms Yunqian Song

Research Scholar

Other Members

  • Dr Esteban Marcellin
  • Prof Largus Angenent (University of Tübingen, Germany)
  • Dr Bastian Molitor (University of Tübingen, Germany)
  • Dr Toshikazu Fukushima (Nippon Steel Corporation, Japan)
  • Mr Mark Hordern (Urban Utilities, Australia)