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.
Anja Røyne, Yi Jing Phua, Ina Grosås Eikjeland, Simone Balzer Le, Sidsel Markussen, Kjell Domaas Josefsen, Alexander Wentzel
Alexander is senior researcher at SINTEF with background in among others molecular biology, industrial biotechnology, systems biology, and enzyme technology. He is SINTEF PI in the BioZEment 2.0 project and is closely linked to the Centre for Digital Life Norway by being project leader of the DLN project INBioPharm and SINTEF PI also of DLN project OXYMOD.
Modelling biological systems
My role in the project is, together with other project partners and PhD students, to establish an experimental model systems to study cementation process on the grain scale (1 - 100 micrometers). Bacteria-induced processes will be studied with spatial and temporal resolution and with a range of experimental methods.
Leader of Work package on Responsible Research and Innovation
Anders is in charge of the techo-economic analysis that predict the potential for reduction in carbon footprint for the concrete industry and estimated cost of various realization strategies for the BioZEment as a product.
Project leader for BioZEment 2.0. Biogeochemical modeling and experiments
Simone is a researcher in the fields of molecular genetics, applied microbiology and biotechnology. She is primarily involved in generating experimental data e.g. for modelling and to create microorganisms with improved properties.
Support in the assessment of environmental impact of BioZEment, at product level (life cycle assessment – LCA) and building stock level
We will use numerical simulations to investigate the interaction between the bacteria and the geochmical environment.