The work, carried out by Dr Rhiannon Chalmers-Brown, Dr Jaime Massanet-Nicolau and Professor Alan Guwy in partnership with TATA Steel UK, looks at turning surplus industrial off-gas streams into saleable products using a bioreactor.
The COACE process bubbles off-gases from the blast furnaces on-site through sewage sludge containing bacteria that consume carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
The product from those bacteria is acetic acid, which can be used for a huge range of commercially viable end-uses such as paints, bioplastics and polymers, where production currently relies on fossil fuels such as gas and oil.
After collecting the award, Dr Chalmers-Brown said: “We are incredibly proud of the COACE project and the way it has brought academia and industry together. We have begun to collect results and are excited to begin deeper investigation into process optimisation and mechanisms.
Whilst the COACE pilot investigates the conversion of Blast Furnace Gas, there are many industries that produce carbon rich gas streams that carbon conversion and utilisation processes could be applied to.”
Professor Alan Guwy, head of SERC and FLEXIS Principal Investigator added: “It is a proud moment for the team to be recognised with this international honour, and for the success of the COACE partnership. This is just one of the projects SERC is involved in to help industries meet environmental targets and work towards a zero-carbon future. By helping them to recover and recycle their by-products can be put to good use instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.
The Lettinga Award was initiated in 2001 by the Lettinga Foundation to stimulate the development and implementation of anaerobic treatment technologies worldwide. It is awarded to a project or idea focused on innovations in the field of anaerobic technology aimed at cleaner energy production, resource recycling, sustainable development and/or resource conservation.