Northeast universities tackling climate change using bacteria

Scientists at Northumbria University, alongside collaborators from Newcastle University, have developed a novel technology to tackle climate change using bacteria

Rebecca Wright
5th December 2022
Image credit: Northumbria University
Novel technology has been developed by scientists at Newcastle and Northumbria, using bacterial photocatalyst sheets to generate sustainable fuels and chemicals from CO2.

This research can help to tackle climate change, and the global energy crisis.

The research involves growing bacteria on a synthetic semiconductor device, named a photocatalyst sheet. Critically, this means that the conversion does not rely on the use of electricity, assistance of organic additives, or creation of harmful toxins.

The fuels made from the bacteria have a variety of uses, Acetate for one can be used to make plastics, paint, vinegar, photographic products and pharmaceuticals.

These semi-biological approaches thus offer a promising strategy for sustainably and cleanly fixing CO2 and closing the carbon cycle.

Whilst the production of plastics might not seem like a solution to the climate crisis, this semi-biological approach of the capture and removal of CO2 from the atmosphere closes off the carbon cycle. In turn, this means less CO2 is entering the atmosphere overall.

The new technology comes at a time of great rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. Hopefully, it will aid the securing of much-needed green energy supplies, thus alleviating the global dependence on fossil fuels. 

Northumbria’s Dr Shafeer Kalathil is one amongst the revered scientists, who said that directly addresses the global energy crisis and climate change facing today’s society. We need to develop new technologies to address these grand challenges without further polluting the planet we live on.”

There are multiple benefits to the research, inspiring budding scientists to develop their own new technologies for sustainable energy production.

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-022-00817-z

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