Recycling CO2 Into Omega-3

The ability to obtain omega-3 oils from CO2 emissions turns the issue of food versus fuels on its head.

AsianScientist (Nov. 14, 2014) – LanzaTech, a New Zealand-based carbon recycling company, together with a research team from India’s Department of Biotechnology and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC-DBT) Center for Advanced Bio-Energy Research, have developed a process that recycles CO2 emissions into omega-3 rich fatty acids.

Omega-3 oils are essential nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the human body and instead must be consumed via the diet, most commonly from eating oily fish. Like humans, however, fish are unable to synthesize omega-3 fatty acids and must source them through their diet as well. To keep up with global demand, fish farms (or aquaculture) use huge quantities of wild fish as feed, contributing to an overfishing crisis and threatening global food security.

Recycling carbon dioxide (CO2) gases as the sole carbon source for continuous gas fermentation, LanzaTech’s microbes produce acetate that is then consumed as energy and carbon by a proprietary algae developed by the team at IOC-DBT. These algae are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can be utilized as an omega-3 rich fish meal substitute, or the algal oil can be extracted and purified as an independent omega-3 lipid product.

“LanzaTech and the team from IOC-DBT have demonstrated the tremendous potential of carbon recycling,” LanzaTech CEO Dr. Jennifer Holmgren says. “A platform that can produce sustainable food and fuels economically and at scale turns the issue of food vs fuels on its head.”

Dr. D K Tuli, Executive Director and Center Coordinator of IOC-DBT center says, “Both IOC-DBT and LanzaTech have demonstrated the integration of IOC and LanzaTech process at bench scale to produce omega-3 fatty acids (mainly DHA) and lipids. Co-production of lipids can make algal oil economically feasible.”

“A continuous pilot plant facility will be set up at IOC (R&D) next year which will integrate both the processes resulting in creation of a disruptive technology. This project could be a game changer for production of omega-3 fatty acids and oil from algae in an economically viable method.”

The process closely parallels LanzaTech’s waste gas to fuels technology, allowing LanzaTech to leverage its experience to rapidly commercialize the process.

LanzaTech has successfully operated two 100,000 gallons per annum demonstration facilities in China that convert waste flue gas from Baosteel and Shougang steel plants into ethanol. LanzaTech is currently developing larger-scale commercial facilities with construction expected to begin later this year.


Source: LanzaTech.
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