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  • Charlotte Bjorck

Losing my marbles...

Held over three days at the East Midlands Conference Centre at the University of Nottingham, the final C1net conference hosted more than 125 delegates from both academia and industry, in fields as diverse as chemical engineering, synthetic biology and social science. Established in 2014, C1net is the BBSRC Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) focused on fermentation of single carbon gas feedstocks.

With a significant focus on conversion of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide to useful chemicals by acetogenic bacteria, talks also covered application of methanotrophs for methane fermentation which is my particular area of interest.

With a passion for science communication and public outreach I developed a tool to demonstrate my PhD research, that although initially created for my involvement with The Brilliant Club, I presented at the conference. Modelled around a marble run, it represents the pathways involved in methane metabolism in methanotrophic bacteria, in addition to demonstrating opportunities for their use in biofuel production. As marbles representing methane gas travel down along enzyme catalysed pathways, and through intermediate metabolites, they are released to the atmosphere as fully oxidised carbon dioxide, or can be diverted to biofuel production.

Aimed at secondary school pupils, but also suitable for use with the public, the tool is a simple, hands on demonstration that communicates the intended information in a very short space of time, that can be pitched at a range of levels depending on the knowledge base of the intended audience.

I have many ideas to further develop the tool, and in the near future hope to apply for funding to make a bigger and better example. Also as a result of presenting it at the conference I received a lot of interest and positive feedback, and have been invited to participate at New Scientist Live in London this year with the SBRC - University of Nottingham.

In all, the conference was a valuable networking opportunity, with a host of great speakers, and overall a thoroughly enjoyable few days. It ensured C1net went out with a bang, and primed it’s members for its upcoming reincarnation as CCnet, carbon recycling: converting waste derived GHG into chemical, fuels and animal feed.

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