BioZEment 2.0

BioZEment 2.0

Systems analysis and fundamental control of bacterial processes in the production of bio-concrete for construction purposes

Main outcome of the project

  • Microscale experiments of biocementation
  • Prototype production of BioZEment bricks
  • Porescale numerical model of biocementation
  • Metabolic model of bacterial strain used
  • Focus group results
  • Future projections of climate impact of BioZEment implementation in building stock
  • New collaborations and plans for further projects
  • Optimized strain cultivation conditions
  • Genetic tools for improvement of biocementation strains

Highlights 2020

The project's contribution to the Centre for Digital Life Norway annual report 2020.

During 2020, our research focused on developing genetic tools for the BioZEment bacteria strains, creating an automated prototype production setup, as well as microscale experiments and pore-scale modelling of biocementation.

One highlight of 2020 has been the finalisation of the work on the environmental assessment of BioZEment with a building stock model, led by our partner RISE in Sweden. This work confirmed that BioZEment has a higher potential of reducing global warming than conventional concrete, regardless of the development in the cement industry.

For us, the added value of being a part of a transdisciplinary centre is the inclusion of the PhD students as part of the research school, and being able to take advantage of the support available from the centre, in particular the support related to data management and innovation.

Miniature wall made from BioZEment bricks. Photo: Simone Balzer Le.

Video made for Digital Life 2020 – the annual conference of the Centre for Digital Life Norway

Scientific publications 2020: 1

Project overview

Project lead: Anja Røyne
Institution: University of Oslo
Partners: SINTEF, NTNU, Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), SP Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut
Funding: NOK 20 mill.
Duration: 1/5/2017–21/3/2021

Publications

Microbial-induced calcium carbonate precipitation: An experimental toolbox for in situ and real-time investigation of micro-scale pH evolution (2020)
Jennifer Simone Zehner, Anja Røyne, Alexander Wentzel, Pawel Sikorski 

Lager betong med bakterier – gir store reduksjoner i CO₂-utslipp (2020)

Vil vi betale for miljø? Klimavennlige byggematerialer (2019)
Harald Throne-Holst 

AVSLÅR TVERRFAGLEG FORSKING (2019)

A pore-scale model of microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (2019)
Mohammad Amin Razbani, Jennifer Simone Zehner, Espen Jettestuen, Anja Røyne, Pawel Sikorski, Anders Malthe-Sørenssen 

The quest for bio-concrete: crossing disciplinary boundaries and wrangling bacteria to enable cleaner construction (2019)
Jennifer Simone Zehner, Emil Karlsen, Mohammad Amin Razbani, Espen Jettestuen, Anders Malthe-Sørensen, Alexander Wentzel, Pawel Sikorski, Eivind Almaas, Anja Røyne 

Quantifying responsiveness (2019)
Harald Throne-Holst 

Towards a low CO2 emission building material employing bacterial metabolism (2/2): Prospects for global warming potential reduction in the concrete industry (2019)
Anders Myhr, Frida Røyne, Andreas Saur Brandtsegg, Catho Bjerkseter, Harald Throne-Holst, Anita Borch, Alexander Wentzel, Anja Røyne 

Automatic assembly of genome-scale metabolic draft reconstructions from KEGG data (2018)
Emil Karlsen, Christian Schulz, Eivind Almaas 

Automated generation of genome-scale metabolic draft reconstructions based on KEGG (2018)
Emil Karlsen, Christian Schulz, Eivind Almaas

All results in the CRIStin-database

Research group

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

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.

Watch project video

Video made for the Digital Life 2020 conference.