GHENT, 26-Aug-2016 — /EuropaWire/ — Bio-Engineer Frederiek-Maarten Kerckhof has developed a technique to remove the greenhouse gas methane more efficiently from the air and possibly make it a usable resource.
Next to CO2, methane is the main greenhouse gas due to human activity. Recent increases in the harmful gas are mainly caused by agriculture, such as cows, but also rice fields.
Today, there are already several techniques that remove methane from the air.However, these are not very efficient and quite expensive.
Bio-engineer Fred Riek Martin Kerckhof (Ghent University) developed a technique that returns the investment cost to remove methane.
He discovered that the bacterial communities found in the vicinity of methane, are crucial. Some bacteria indeed remove methane but moreover seek cooperation with other bacteria that can’t remove methane.
When those bacteria work together, the others can also remove methane. As a result, methane can be removed more efficiently.
Kerckhof: “Consider it a particularly marriage between partners, who are stronger together.”
But there’s more. “You can ensure that the methane removal bacterium interacts with a bacterium that also has other strengths,” said Kerckhof, “for example one that can remove contaminants from groundwater. So you get a win-win situation: methane is removed efficiently, and you can use the bacterial community in water treatment or soil quality improvement.”
Scientists can also build combinations with bacteria that can create certain raw materials, such as vitamins or pigments. Such bacterial community can be used in the pharmaceutical industry to provide microbially produced materials for example cosmetics. “So you can earn back the investment cost to remove recovering methane, by converting it into a valuable product” says Kerckhof.
The researcher is currently working on the practical implementation of the technique.
SOURCE: Ghent University