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Biopolymers from Syngas Fermentations (SYNPOL)

The basic idea of the SYNPOL project is to establish an integrated process technology for the cost-effective, sustainable synthesis of biopolymers by fermentation of syngas, the gas mixture produced by pyrolysis of very complex organic wastes.

R&D activities focus on the integration of innovative physico-chemical, biochemical, downstream and synthetic technologies to produce a wide range of biodegradable and/or biobased polymers, and include an assessment on the environmental benefits and drawbacks related to the whole concept.

HES-SO Valais is responsible for the design of syngas fermentations with the poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) producing Rhodospirillum rubrum in bench-top bioreactors under anaerobic growth conditions. The physiology of the cells is being investigated in depth using a newly set up laboratory for the safe handling of syngas and cutting-edge process analytical technology tools including a continuous mass spectrometer for gas analysis and a flow cytometer to allow process optimization. In addition, new methods for the downstream processing of PHB polymers in an environmentally friendly way are being investigated.