Best Ideas 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
EcoGreen Consortium, Advancing Circular Economy in Africa and Beyond.
Explain your idea in details:
EcoGreen Consortium would be a Biotechnology Start-up Company founded to transform waste methane from flared natural gas and landfill gas (LFG) or biogas and other waste carbon-1 (C-1) gases to Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) polymer, a biodegradable and biocompatible bio-plastics and other commodity chemicals, exploring methanotrophs, microbes that eat methane as mini green manufacturing factory. Nigeria flares more natural gas associated with oil extraction than any other country, with estimates suggesting that of the 3.5 billion cubic feet of associated gas produced annually 2.5 billion cubic feet is wasted by flaring. Statistical data associated with gas flaring are notoriously unreliable, but Nigeria may waste US$2 billion per year by flaring associated gas. Gas flared in Nigeria contributes about 70 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year. It also releases 12 million metric tons of methane. Nigeria generates about 542.5 million tons of organic waste. This in turn has the potential of yielding about 25.53 billion m3 of biogas. Synthesis of PHB from methane by EcoGreen Consortium provides a clear path whereby carbon from methane, a potent greenhouse gas, would be sequestered in PHB, a valuable product. Therefore, use of methane for PHB production is an example of waste valorisation. A major obstacle preventing the large scale production of PHB has been the lack of a reliable low cost large volume carbon feedstock. Techno-economic studies of PHB production have shown that a major cost of pure culture production is the carbon feedstock, estimated to be up to 40% of the product cost. Methane as a substrate of interest for the production of PHB has the potential to decrease PHB cost from more than $4 per kilogram to levels competitive with petrochemical based plastics at approximately $2 per kilogram or less. This is due to abundance and relatively low price of methane.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
Currently, the vast majority of synthetic material polymers are produced from fossil carbon using processes that are unsustainable and not based on principles of green chemistry. The contemporary utilization of constrained fossil resources for the production polymers provokes current problems of greenhouse effect and global warming. This is caused by the fact that these materials are utilized only during a relatively short time span, and that they often incinerated elevating the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The main problem arising from incineration of plastics is the same as for energy recovery from fossil feedstock. In addition, incineration of plastics often generate toxic compounds. Therefore, the aim and goal of EcoGreen Consortium, Methanotrophic Microbes: A Mini Green Chemical Factory for Transformation of Methane in the Flared and Stranded Natural Gas in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria to PHB biodegradable polymer plastic and other commodity chemicals is to bring the principle of green chemistry by transforming waste methane to biodegradable polymers in a cradle to cradle cycle as waste products containing PHB are degraded back to methane. EcoGreen Consortium targets SDG Goal 13; Climate Action, which is to take urgent action to climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting development in renewable resources. This is because methane which would be EcoGreen Consortium substrate of interest for PHB production is a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times higher warming capacity than CO2. It also targets SDG Goal 12; Responsible consumption and production. The target of Goal 12, using eco-friendly production methods and reducing amount of waste is in consonance with EcoGreen Consortium project of using methane in the flared and stranded natural gas in eco-friendly way to produce PHB, a biodegradable plastic. EcoGreen Consortium would be Research and Development Biotech startup Company evolving from labscale to pilot scale and commercialization.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
EcoGreen Consortium revenue model would rely on its Intellectual Property (IP) right in particularl patents. EcoGreen Consortium patents would be its crucial assets and IP would be assets upon which EcoGreen Consortium biotech Start-up Companys valuation would be based. EcoGreen Consortium Biotech Company would invest significantly higher proportion of its revenues in R&D of lab and pilot-scale stage and subsequent R&D would generate IP which we intend to patent. EcoGreen Consortium IP would include its proprietary stock culture of methanotrophic microbes and its proprietary Gas-Liquid fermentation technology. Therefore, EcoGreen Consortium would out-license these potential IP to biotechnology incubators which would sign Non-Disclosure Agreement. The main purpose of the biotechnology incubator would be to speed up the business development by providing the start-up risk capital reducing the uncertainty in the early phases of development and shortening the time-to-market. At the long term EcoGreen Consortium would be generating revenue by royalties from its IP and would be using microbes to transform other C1 waste gases like CO2 and CO into other commodity chemicals. EcoGreen Consortium would seek to enter into joint venture with one of International Oil Company (IOC) and one of name brand after the R&D Lab and Pilot scale. Carol G. Leggett (PhD), director of microbiology at Danimer Scientific, a biotechnology company would be my mentor and be involved in the supervision of lab-scale and pilot scale stage of the project, where he would bring his expertise and EcoGreen Consortium would therefore collaborate with Danimer Scientific, Meredian Division, a U.S based Biotechnology Company which would provide technical assistance.
Okafor Luke Chidozie was born on October 21, 1989 and is a microbiology graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka and a biotechnology enthusiast. His interest in microbial bioenergy and green environment led him to write research proposal to Energy Research Institute in university of Nigeria, Nsukka when he was still undergraduate in his final year at the university to do his research project on "Microbial Fuel Cell". It was about generating electricity from brewery wastewater and simultaneously treating the wastewater. Although the proposal for the grant was turned down, he later did his final year Bachelor of Science research project on "Screening of Microorganisms Producing Polyhydroxybutyrate: A Biodegradable Plastic". This earned him admiration from both his professors and external professors that came to cross-examined the project as one of the most innovative projects on microbial sustainable green technology. His enthusiasm in application of biology to technology led him to write a seminar and a review on DNA as an alternative to silicon chip in computer microprocessor. When he is not glued to internet searching for ways of making liquid fuels from air using microbes, he spends time working in the garden, teaching and trying hard to learn computer programming. You can reach him via [email protected] He has strong believe in scientific creativity and has realize that science in its own is not enough to launch flourishing enterprise and has learned to collaborate with others with needed expertise to commercialize his scientific creativity.