Removing and Utilizing Carbon Dioxide

Joint Research Project ACCeSS of RWTH Aachen University, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, and Forschungszentrum Jülich Granted Funding in the 2022 Profile Building NRW Program

20 October 2023

The Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (MKW) announced today that the ACCeSS (Active Carbon Capture for Sustainable Syn-thesis) research project has been granted funding. ACCeSS is coordinated by Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), spokesperson is Prof. Dr. Lutz Schmitt from the Institute of Biochemistry at HHU. From Forschungszentrum Jülich, Prof. Björn Usadel, Director of the Institute for Bioinformatics, is involved in the project. The project team will focus on the net reduction of carbon dioxide CO2 in the atmosphere.

One of the most significant causes of anthropogenic climate change is greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere; CO2 has the greatest influence here, coming from various sources such as transportation, industry, and heat generation. Over the past 150 years, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen from a pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to a record 421 ppm in May 2022.

Climate change is altering rainfall patterns worldwide, resulting in severe weather events and reduced weather predictability. Among other things, this poses major challenges for crop production and thus for food security.

In the ACCeSS research project, which has now commenced, RWTH, HHU, and Forschungszentrum Jülich have joined forces and are pooling their expertise in green and white biotechnology, membrane biology, bioinformatics, computer science, materials science, and production engineering. Their joint strategy to address the causes and effects of climate change – capturing CO2 from the environment and producing high-value compounds from it to remove net CO2 from the atmosphere.

Microorganisms shall capture the CO2, and the process is to be coupled to self-replicating metabolic cycles. Synthetic biology methods will then be employed to produce chemical compounds in a circular process. This requires using solar energy and the nutrients in wastewater to recover CO2 from the atmosphere, binding it to carbohydrates through photosynthesis, and then converting it into sustainable, high-value compounds in a biocatalytic process.

Funding for Three Years

The research project starts November 1, 2023, and is scheduled to run for three years. The total funding amount is approximately 2.5 million euros, with HHU’s share amounting to 1.4 million euros. The Profile Building funding line is part of an overarching, open-topic, cross-disciplinary research funding program. The funding provided is intended to strengthen and support universities and research institutions in NRW in developing new research profiles and focal points, and in establishing strong research networks. Building on existing strengths, areas of potential in NRW are to be expanded so that they can significantly sharpen the research profiles of the respective institution. In the 2022 funding round, ten new projects will be funded with 27 million euros in total. NRW Science Minister Ina Brandes emphasizes: “The future is being devised, researched, and developed in North Rhine-Westphalia. With our funding program, we are creating scope for researchers to explore subjects and network with each other across and beyond different disciplines. This provides fertile ground for innovative ideas that make our everyday lives that much easier.”


  • Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG)
  • Bioinformatics (IBG-4)
Building 06.5 /
Room 2002
+49 2461/61-9503

Erhard Zeiss

Wissenschaftlicher Kommunikationsreferent

  • Institute of Neurosciences and Medicine (INM)
  • Structural and Functional Organisation of the Brain (INM-1)
Building 15.9 /
Room 3033
+49 2461/61-1841

Last Modified: 24.10.2023