The planet is overheating as a result of unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas emissions – especially CO2. Imagine being able to not only bind carbon dioxide, but to eat it as well. The Viennese company Arkeon has developed a technology that will enable us to do exactly that – it uses microbes to convert CO2 into edible proteins.
Archaea microbes play a key role in this process. Scientists have ignored the single-cell organisms for a long time, and even misclassified them as bacteria. Today we know that archaea comprise one of the three domains of all cellular organisms – and that their standard metabolic processes can be quite beneficial to humans. This is because the archaea microbe uses gas fermentation in a sophisticated bioreactor to turn CO2 into valuable proteins that can be used, for example, in food or cosmetics.
“We have developed and patented a new technology that can produce all twenty amino acids that play a key role in human nutrition from the waste product carbon dioxide”, says Arkeon co-founder Michael Mitsakos. “We can produce different compounds depending on the requirements of the food industry.”
The Arkeon team provides the perfect conditions for the archaea microbe to deliver optimum results: water quality, pressure, temperature, space, and light are key. Their work requires highly specialised expertise in biotechnology.
There are 35 people working for Arkeon today, and the company is set to recruit even more. “The quality of life in Vienna is an enormously important factor for many international scientists, engineers, and technicians”, says Mitsakos. “For Arkeon, the high quality of life combined with high professional standards were an important factor in the decision to locate the company in Vienna to attract qualified professionals.” The close links between technology and environmental sustainability are another important selling point for Arkeon in favour of Vienna and Seestadt Aspern. “We benefit from the innovation and cooperation opportunities offered by the Technology Centre Seestadt”, says Mitsakos. This is because the archaea microbe feeds on CO2, which Arkeon can source directly from local industrial companies.
Innovation and sustainability are the cornerstones of Arkeon’s activities. “We want to revolutionise our production methods”, says Mitsakos. “Our goal is for Arkeon to have a positive impact on society, nutrition and climate protection.”