The research aims to exploit biocatalysts such as bacterial enzymes (hydrogenase and formate dehydrogenase) for GHG effect mitigation via CO2 conversion to chemicals and biofuels. In this perspective it is in line with the curriculum-specific topic concerning the identification and evaluation of possible bio-based climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, focusing on biotechnological approaches for GHG abatement and recycling. The biocatalysts will be directly interfaced with photo-activated semiconductors such as titanium and zinc oxides and will be used to develop bio-cathodes that allow the production of bio-hydrogen and the conversion of CO2 to formate by exploiting electrons carried by the semiconductor.The system works either coupled to an anode capable of generating electrons or via direct solar photo- activation. The coupling of hydrogenase to TiO2 has already been demonstrated and published by our research group. The advantage of using enzymes is a very low over-potential compared to inorganic catalysts as well as high turnover frequency and mild operating conditions.To achieve biofuels production (such as bio-methanol) other biocatalysts necessary for conversion of formate to formaldehyde and then to methanol (formaldehyde dehydrogenase or FaldDH, to reduce formate to formaldehyde and a suitable alcohol dehydrogenase -ADH- or methanol dehydrogenase -MDH- capable of converting formaldehyde to methanol) will be immobilized on the cathode layer.
Background in biochemistry, chemistry, material sciences and an interest in the inter-disciplinar field of combining inorganic and photo-active or electro-active material with proteins. The candidate should be prepared to be challenged with learning different techniques spanning from biology to chemistry and technological application.Enthusiasm and curiosity for cutting-edge techniques and approaches to research are also useful. The work will also imply using glove-boxes and requires a good degree of precision and dedication, with time-consuming experiments.
The DBIOS biochemistry group, led by prof, Gianfranco Gilardi (https://www.Biochemistry-scienze.Unito.It/), is providing expertise in enzyme-based and microbial biocatalysts and industrial biotechnology processes. The research has a strong drive to exploitation for industrial competitiveness and improving society. Facilities: molecular biology and protein expression (2 x10 L fermenters, shakers) and purification (Akta and LC chromatography), 2D electrophoresis, HPLC, gas-chromatography, UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, 3 glove-boxes, diode array stopped flow, electrochemistry, Grazing angle FT-IR, contact angle, GPC-UV.