The Problem: Being greenhouse gases, both NOx and SOx play a critical role in Global Warming. Considering the present rate of rise in temperatures, we are certainly on path of self-destruction.
The world these days has turned into a junkyard. Today greenhouse gases such as NOx and SOx pose a grave challenge to our environment and sustainability – a problem that needs urgent solutions.
These oxides increase the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere, which is responsible for the photochemical production of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere causing detrimental effects on humans and environment.
SOx or Sulfur Oxides are responsible for phenomenon of acid rains and acidified soils. It results in huge economic losses every year due to destruction of farm crops, buildings and environment. Additionally, SOx aggravates respiratory diseases such as asthma and pneumonia, thus affecting human health.
Our team, iGEM IIT Delhi, took up the challenge to combat catastrophic effects of pollution and assumed the role of a ‘Pollution Crusader’. Using our previous years’ work our aim was to replace Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and build a prototype that can clean the exhaust of all pollutants including NOx, SOx, CO, CO2, and soot.
Our approach was to first synthetically construct a strain of E.coli bacteria which can convert harmful components of exhaust gases coming out of chimneys of various industries and car exhausts into harmless by-products.
Secondly, our goal was to build a working prototype which will utilise our modified bacteria in a small reactor so as to process incoming harmful exhaust to safe derivatives.
Our Innovative Solution:
We have successfully cloned five BioBricks which convert Nitrite (NO2-) to Ammonium (NH4+), Nitrous Oxide (N2O) to Nitrogen (N2), and Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) to Sulphur (S).
We have characterised Nitrite Reductase, and improved BioBricks submitted by previous iGEM teams.
We have designed a prototype which converts Soot, NOx and SOx to harmless products.The prototype is in working condition.Our aim is to scale down the size of final device.
We are actively collaborating with the Delhi state government. We are hopeful to commercialise this prototype for market starting with application for diesel generators and car engines.
We have compiled a pollution booklet on India, that provides state and city wide information and statistics on pollution
Keeping social context in mind, our team interacted with various stakeholders including students, government officials, research agencies, urban and rural publics in order to build awareness on the issue and seek potential solutions.
A critical barrier to achieve optimal result in this construct is the regulation of heme protein production in E.coli, a problem which remains unsolved. Our team has found a crucial regulatory pathway that can be manipulated to increase heme production and activity levels of heme protein. We have modelled this pathway, which we hope will prove beneficial to future iGEM teams to reliably carry forward research on the issue of heme protein regulation.