Systems analysis and fundamental control of bacterial processes in the production of bio-concrete for construction purposes
The production of concrete accounts for more than 5% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and new, disruptive technology in the field is needed to make a large-scale impact. Among the alternative avenues currently pursued is the use of naturally occurring mineral-microbe interactions in the production of construction materials. Integrated efforts across multiple disciplines, including biotechnology, nanotechnology, mathematics, geochemistry, process engineering, techno-economics, and social sciences will make it possible to pave the way for a more sustainable production of concrete for construction purposes in the bioeconomy era.
The idea of BioZEment originates from the Research Council of Norway's first Idélab "Towards the Zero Emission Society" (2014). Our basic concept is to employ bacteria to produce acid to partially dissolve crushed limestone, and subsequently induce an increase in pH by biocatalysis to initiate re-precipitation of calcium carbonate to bind sand grains together, forming a solid, concrete-like construction material. Experimental results from the Idélab project indicate the overall feasibility of the BioZEment concept. However, in order to elevate the current technological achievements to the next level, an in-depth systems-scale understanding at different levels will be necessary to guide further development of the concept. To that purpose, the BioZEment consortium will team up with additional partners at IRIS and NTNU, forming BioZEment 2.0, to expand its theoretical and predictive capabilities in the fields of systems biology and bio-geochemical process modelling. This is essential to guide the BioZEment process towards commercial large-scale applications.
SINTEF, NTNU, Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), SP Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut
Anja Røyne, Yi Jing Phua, Ina Grosås Eikjeland, Simone Balzer Le, Sidsel Markussen, Kjell Domaas Josefsen, Alexander Wentzel