Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Colipi

Upcycling CO2 into sustainable oils


A startup has developed a new process for producing oils using industrial waste and CO2

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Spotted: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is seeing increasing use. In 2022, the global CO2 capacity of CCS facilities under development rose by 44 per cent compared with the previous year, to 242 million metric tonnes of CO2 a year. A number of innovators are working to find ways to put all of this captured carbon to good use. One of these is German startup Colipi, which is preparing to launch sustainable alternatives to vegetable oils – including palm oil – produced using microorganisms and CO2.

Colipi, which was spun out of the Technical University of Hamburg, will produce its Climate Oil using bacteria grown using carbon dioxide captured from point sources in Colipi’s patented new gas fermentation bioreactor. Before reaching certain milestones with their power-to-liquid technology, the company also developed a fermentation bridge technology in which oleaginous yeast cells feed on by-products of organic waste.

The produced oils contain natural pigments and carotenoids that have antioxidant properties and can also be used as an active ingredient in cosmetics, and for other uses. The researchers state that the process can also be used to create completely new lipids that may be more suitable for certain applications than existing oils. According to the company, its Climate Oil has an exceptionally low carbon footprint compared to vegetable and fossil oils.

As of April 2023, Colipi has received a total of €4.1 million from the German government’s EXIST fund, which supports startups spun off from university graduates, scientists, and students. To start, Colipi will focus on serving companies in the cosmetics and cleaning products sectors where approval procedures are faster and less complex than in the food industry.

Gas fermentation has already been used to produce different kinds of useful raw materials. In the archive, Springwise has also spotted: sustainable aviation fuels; protein and glucose alternatives; and even plant-based silk, cashmere, and wool fibres.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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