Bacteria developed to produce cement from carbon dioxide

Bioengineers from the Technical University of Denmark have figured out how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in

construction industry. Genetically modified bacteria capture carbon dioxide and use it to create calcium carbonate, one of the main elements of cement.

For their production, researchersused the genes of coral polyps. These animals build "huge buildings" under water - coral reefs - calcareous structures that resemble cement in composition. Bioengineers have transferred genes from these living organisms to bacteria. The modified microorganisms produce an enzyme that binds carbon dioxide to calcium carbonate (limestone).

High temperatures when heating cement inmanufacturing process results in the release of carbon dioxide. In 2021 alone, according to the authors of the study, about 2.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere during the production of this building material. This is about 7% of the total emissions.

The use of bacteria in cement production. Image: Technical University of Denmark

The main idea of ​​the new technology isto create a closed loop production. Engineers propose using a bioreactor that will capture carbon dioxide released when heated and convert it into limestone. The finished material can be reused for cement production.

While the researchers tested their technologyonly in the laboratory. Scaling up production will require increasing bacterial resistance for industrial applications and modifying cement production. The technology places special demands on the bioreactor, the bioengineers explain. Modified bacteria, like corals, work in a liquid environment, while the finished material is solid. Therefore, when designing a reactor, it is necessary to create a method for easily transporting finished calcium carbonate from the bioreactor.

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