Syngas - a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen - has a long history of use in the chemical industry, both for large-scale ammonia and methanol production and for conversion of C1 feedstocks - coal and natural gas - into chemicals and fuels via Fischer-Tropsch reactions. But a novel, less energy intensive route is now being developed by US-based biostart-up Genomatica
, which has identified and produced bacteria that can convert syngas directly into chemicals.
This week Genomatica signed a development project
with fellow US company Waste Management to develop a process that takes syngas produced by Waste Management via controlled combustion of municipal household waste and turn into intermediate and basic chemicals.
Just which chemicals, Genomatica is not revealing at this stage, but it has other bugs that can produce butanediol and isopropanol and adipic acid, amongst other things.