LAUTERBACH Lab's research includes the molecular design of recombinant microorganisms for the use and production of sustainable and clean biofuels such as molecular hydrogen and biomethane.
Electro- and H2-driven biocatalysis
We strive to understand the basic mechanisms of catalysis in biology and to exploit the potential of electro- and H2-driven biocatalysis for the production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Here, our research focuses primarily on hydrogenation reactions with synthetic biocatalysts, coupling electrolysis with biocatalysis, and designing autotrophic bacteria (H2, CH4, and CO2 utilization) as future biorefineries. Modern synthetic microbiology methods are used for studies in the context of bioeconomy and biofuel research.
Fundamental understanding of biological H2- and methane conversion
However, in order to develop functional gas-converting biocatalysts, a fundamental understanding of biological H2 and methane conversion at the molecular level is necessary. The diversity of available biochemical and synchrotron-based spectroscopic methods make it possible to generate a deep understanding of reactions taking place and lay the foundation for future gas-to-liquid fuel conversion and utilization of "green" H2 for biotechnological applications.
In another field of research, the group is engaged in the light-driven production of hydrogen. H2 has a high energy content and its combustion with O2 leaves only water as a by-product. These properties make hydrogen very attractive as a future sustainable fuel. Coupling an O2-tolerant hydrogenase with the photosystem would enable light-driven H2 production. Here we are working very closely with internationally leading groups across disciplines. The long-term goal of this project is to achieve light-driven H2 production in blue-green algae so that they can generate H2 as a decentralized system.
Contact us if you are interested in participating in these areas of research, or if you have your own ideas for research that could be incorporated into these areas.