Biological conversion of GHG into fuels and chemicals

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Dr Esteban

Acetogens have a substantial role in the global carbon cycle by producing billions of tons of acetic acid annually from capturing an estimated ~20% of CO2 on Earth. Acetogens can also fix inorganic carbon as CO or CO2 using arguably the first biochemical pathway on Earth, the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway (WLP). The WLP is the most energy-efficient and the only known linear pathway for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA from CO2. Operating at the limit of thermodynamic feasibility and relying on the third mode of energy conservation, electron bifurcation, acetogens represent a fascinating family of microbes with unique regulatory modes of operation at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional level.

This project offers a unique opportunity to convert low carbon feedstocks into valuable chemicals using gas fermentation. Fermentation of C1 gases by acetogens offers numerous advantages. Gas fermentation tolerates a broad range of gas compositions and contaminants. For example, LanzaTech's commercial gas fermentation facilities, recently inaugurated in China, operates on unconditioned steel mill waste gas. Three other commercial-scale production facilities are underway. At the same time, LanzaTech’s process is ready for treating agricultural and solid municipal waste streams in Japan. However, acetogens metabolism is constrained by metabolism limits and a complex, poorly understood, regulation which this project aims at better understanding.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of industrial biotechnology, computational modelling and fermentation synthetic biology, would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of synthetic biology, biotechnology, chemical engineering and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of bioreactors is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now