ORNL Turns Pollution into Fuel, Plastics, and High-End Clothes

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Vincent Gabrielle | April 3, 2022

What if you could capture pollution off a smokestack and turn it into a polyester dress, jet fuel or high-end running shoes? That’s something that Oak Ridge National Lab scientists have been working on and it’s already hitting stores.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and LanzaTech, a biotechnology company, have created a synthetic bacterium that eats industrial pollution and secretes useful chemicals as waste. Those chemicals can then be converted into a variety of products like footwear, fuel, fabric and plastic containers.

“Once you have short carbon chains, your ethanol chains, isopropanol chains, you can take those and basically turn them into anything,” said Timothy Tschaplinski, head of biodesign and systems biology for Oak Ridge National Lab. “Now it’s not coming from fossil fuel.”