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Biopolymers from Syngas Fermentations


SYNPOL aims to propel the sustainable production of new biopolymers from feedstock.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement n° 311815.

SYNPOL will thereto establish a platform that integrates biopolymer production through modern processing technologies, with bacterial fermentation of syngas, and the pyrolysis of highly complex biowaste (e.g., municipal, commercial, sludge, agricultural).

The R&D activities will focus on the integration of innovative physico-chemical, biochemical, downstream and synthetic technologies to produce a wide range of new biopolymers. The integration will engage novel and mutually synergistic production methods as well as the assessment of the environmental benefits and drawbacks.

This integrative platform will be revolutionary in its implementation of novel microwave pyrolytic treatments together with systems-biology defined highly efficient and physiologically balanced recombinant bacteria. The latter will produce biopolymer building blocks and poly(3-hydroxyalkanoates) (PHAs) that will serve to synthesize novel bio-based plastic prototypes by chemical and enzymatic catalysis.  

Thus, the SYNPOL platform will empower the treatment and recycling of complex biological and chemical wastes and raw materials in a single integrated process. The knowledge generated through this innovative biotechnological approach will not only benefit the environmental management of terrestrial wastes, but also reduce the harmful environmental impact of petrochemical plastics.

This project offers a timely strategic action that will enable the EU to lead worldwide the syngas fermentation technology for waste revalorisation and sustainable biopolymer production.  

The institute Industrial Systems of HES-SO Valais-Wallis is responsible for developing and building a new automatic fluid handling system. The goal of this machine is to take samples from the bioreactors, dilute them with a buffer solution (1:1 to 1:10’000) and make a staining with Nile Red. Then the samples are sent to an online flowcytometer that counts the number of cells. The number of cells gives us the concentration of bioplastic into the bioreactor and so the scientists can improve the cells grows conditions (Feedback).

A first prototype was built during year 2013, but the tests show us that the precision for the dilution was not sufficient (~25 %). We search another method to make a more precise dilution and build a second prototype during year 2014. This new method is at this time under testing.