top of page

Alberta start-up turns greenhouse gases into sustainable jet fuel

SBB Staff

Jun 28, 2023

Edmonton's SynBioBlox introduces groundbreaking sustainable jet fuel from greenhouse gases, leveraging synthetic biology, AI, and machine learning, aiming to revolutionize the aviation industry and combat climate change.

See original article at Skiesmag

Every year, human activities release roughly 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Government and industry leaders around the world are urgently seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of these emissions, to stop potentially devastating changes to Earth’s climate. Edmonton-based start-up SynBioBlox will help solve this monumental problem using synthetic biology – a way of engineering living cells that can convert greenhouse gases into useful products like sustainable jet fuel.

Just like trees absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, there are microorganisms that use greenhouse gases to fuel their biological processes and produce different substances as a by-product. Thanks to advances in molecular biology, scientists can now use gene-editing technology like CRISPr to make these organisms more efficient at this, or even create new types of cells that are purpose-built to absorb greenhouse gases and release beneficial substances.

The team behind SynBioBlox made this kind of innovation much easier by creating the BioConversion Databank Foundation (BioDF) in 2019 – a non-profit databank that puts genetic sequencing data in one convenient place for researchers. With support from the University of Alberta and Alberta Innovates, the BioDF/SynBioBlox team then took things a step further by creating MaximizerTM: a free, user-friendly open research portal for synthetic biology, which provides easy access to quality data, expertise, and analytical tools.

At the same time, the team began to think about how they could use this information to make the world a more sustainable place. Their idea was to use the MaximizerTM platform to find biological organisms that use greenhouse gases, and through synthetic biology and genetic alteration, could turn those gases into useful products. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to scale this process for commercial development, they are rapidly expanding possibilities for a bio-manufacturing economy.


SynBioBlox plans to absorb one billion tonnes of greenhouse gases per year through their synthetic biology products, and they have achieved unprecedented speed and cost-efficiency in working toward this goal. Leveraging AI and machine learning has made their approach ten times faster and twice as cost effective as the old trial-and-error method of exploratory research.

“This process is revolutionary in tackling the climate change crisis. We are bio-industrializing mother nature by taking organisms that already love to do the process we need them to do, and ramping it up. With the BioDF and MaximizerTM, we can now turn the process on its head and quickly identify the specifications we need and find, modify, or create the organism to do it, instead of having to go through all the work to discover what an organism does and hope we can find an application for it. Our goal is to be a world leader in generating wealth through the application of synthetic biology to organisms using greenhouse gases as an input,” says John McDougall, CEO, SynBioBlox.

SynBioBlox’s first major project is the development of sustainable aviation fuel produced directly from greenhouse gases – specifically methane. With the aviation sector generating 3.5% of global greenhouse gas effects, this cleaner and energy-dense jet fuel, named Active X, would drastically reduce atmospheric emissions and the net carbon footprint of air travel. Additionally, the use of unrecovered emissions to create the fuel would reduce costs by 80% compared to creating traditional jet fuel.

Future projects for SynBioBlox include using greenhouse gas emissions to bio-process amino acids to increase food availability and reduce costs, create decomposable bioplastics, and reduce emissions associated with cellulose production. They are now seeking a $1.5 million investment to propel their projects from scale-up to commercial development. By joining forces with SynBioBlox, investors can contribute to the realization of a sustainable future while capitalizing on the immense potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the field of synthetic biology.

This press release was prepared and distributed by SynBioBlox

bottom of page