One of the greatest challenges facing society is the future sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from non-petrochemical resources while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The use of abundant and renewable lignocellulosic materials, that can be physically pretreated to yield both cellulosic and C5 fractions as feedstocks to make chemicals and fuels can be highly valuable if the process is efficient and does not lead to CO2 production.
In this project, SynConsor4Butanol, we will engineer synthetic consortia to convert, WITHOUT CO2 production, the cellulosic fraction from lignocellulosic materials to a value added product , n-butanol, that can be used both as a platform chemical or a biofuel. Engineered synthetic consortia will be derived through a combination of interdisciplinary methodologies, synthetic biology (UNOTT, University of Nottingham; TUM, Technical University of Munich), metabolic engineering (INSA, University of Toulouse, UNOTT, University of Nottingham; TUM, Technical University of Munich), systems biology (UOG, University of Girona; INSA, University of Toulouse), and fermentation development (UOG, University of Girona).
Research Innovation (RRI) practices will be embedded within the programme of work through the participation of dedicated Social Scientists from the Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) at Nottingham. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) and Techno-Economic Analysis (TEA) will be undertaken by Toulouse in partnership with BASF. SynConsor4Butanol will lead to the development of new “CO2 free” Sustainable production and conversion processes based on lignocellulosic feedstocks . This will lead to a value-added product, n-butanol, useful in the chemical industry and as a biofuel.
Ultimately, the developments made will lead to new sustainable industrial processes. Moreover, by combining resources and expertise, SynConsor4Butanol connects research partners in four different countries (Germany, UK, Spain, and France) with different but complementary scientific and technological expertise, thereby maximising resources and sharing the risks, costs and skills. The participants represent some of Europe’s leading experts in Clostridial genetics, metabolism and engineering. The amalgamation of their expertise and resources provides the critical mass needed to compete with the rest of the world, in particular the US and China, where there is considerable activity in this field.