We aim to create an international research center to advance use-inspired research and education on the recovery of chemicals and fuels from waste streams using biotechnology. Anaerobic digestion has a long history in the waste-to-energy field to produce biogas. This low-value energy source can be upgraded to renewable natural gas, but this is not cost-competitive with current technologies without carbon mitigation subsidies. Bulk chemicals (e.g., short- and medium-chain carboxylic acids) and biopolymers have much greater value. Producing them from waste streams using mixed culture anaerobic microbiomes would allow us to contribute to decarbonizing some of the most difficult-to-decarbonize industries with a greater chance of being cost-competitive. Our center aims to identify and address scientific, technological, social, economic, and policy bottlenecks to produce renewable natural gas and higher-value chemicals and fuels from a diverse range of waste streams (e.g., food and other municipal solid waste streams, forestry residues, agricultural waste, wastewater biosolids, industrial off-gases). Our center would provide research and educational opportunities to students and early-career researchers and contribute to workforce development. We aim to address education research questions related to student motivation to enter renewable energy and circular economy fields and faculty motivation to contribute to workforce development.
Funding: $60K (2023)
Goal: To identify and address scientific, technological, social, economic, and policy bottlenecks to produce chemicals and fuels from waste streams.
Token Investors: Lutgarde Raskin, Steven Skerlos, Shanna Daly, and Sita Syal
Project ID: 1124