Press releases
4 January 2010, Zwingenberg and Essen

RWE Power and BRAIN join forces in white biotech: co-operation on CO2 as raw material for new produc

Power generator and biotech company in joint project hosted by Coal Innovation Centre in Niederaussem

“Our search for biotechnological solutions to CO2 conversion proves a point: we have the energy to lead in climate conservation,” declares Dr. Johannes Lambertz, CEO at RWE Power. “Our goal is constant expansion of our range in this field. As well as reducing and storing carbon dioxide, we want to develop further intelligent uses. Quite deliberately, we are combining what we know about power generation with the expertise of specialist companies such as BRAIN. We want to find as many different solutions as possible,” adds Lambertz.

“The targeted use of ‘nature’s toolbox’ is making many industrial processes more effective, environmentally compatible and more sustainable. White biotech is a pointer to the industry of the future, which will conserve the environment and its resources,” notes Dr Holger Zinke. As co-founder and executive chairman of BRAIN, he was a winner of the German Environmental Award from Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt in 2008. “Working with RWE Power, we want to advance into a new aera of CO2 conversion,” explains BRAIN’s Research Director, Dr Jürgen Eck. “There is a variety of microbial engineering pathways, while synthetic biology offers possibilities. Both lead to more efficient CO2 conversion, using these powerful designer micro-organisms. So we are positive about the future success of our co-operation.”

Micro-organisms grow faster than plants and even algae. In fermentation units, high cell densities emerge from which more intensive mutation can be induced. Overall this leads to a higher level of carbon dioxide conversion. “Our co-operation boosts and expedites our research work in CO2 use. It is an important step towards using biology to tackle technical challenges,” underlines Dr. Johannes Ewers, New Technology/Carbon Capture & Storage Manager at RWE Power. Hot on the heels of algae conversion, the joint project with BRAIN is the company’s second in this field. RWE Power operates the Coal Innovation Centre at its Niederaussem power plant site. It has made this the centre of its activities for environmentally friendly power generation from coal. The company already operates Germany’s first CO2 scrubbing plant here. This is a prototype for pre-drying lignite (WTA fluid bed drying system). The plant utilises internal waste heat, and a REAplus high-performance scrubber, to improve the separation of dust and sulphur dioxide from the flue gas. Also, RWE’s algae project integrates carbon dioxide with plant matter which can then be used as biomass, for example. All projects are working in conjunction with what is currently the world’s most modern and efficient lignitefired power plant (BoA1), and represent a total investment of EUR 90 million.

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