Our Electronic Waste is a Huge Problem

Our world is becoming increasingly technologized, yet less than 18% of our electronic waste is properly recycled. Right now, this leads to the loss of valuable resources like Rare-Earth Elements that are crucial for sustainable technology like clean energy production and storage.

With RareCycle, we harness the power of synthetic biology to reduce wastage, replace harmful mining practices and engage more people in the recycling of their e-waste!

Our mission is to empower communities to recycle their own e-waste and profit from the recovered Rare-Earth resources. We achieve this by developing cost-effective and low-barrier synthetic biology to grow and deploy genetically engineered fungal mycelium that can extract the valuable resources from e-waste.

Global E-Waste Consumption is in Imbalance

Global E-Waste Consumption is in Imbalance

Every day, tons of electronic waste are illegaly exported into countries of the Global South. Once there, unsafe recycling practices endanger the environment and health of the affected communities. This needs to stop! We want to engage people more in the recycling of their own e-waste and enable everyone to profit from it within their neighborhoods.

We want to achieve this by introducing cheap, safe and sustainable recycling techniques based on synthetic biology. Meanwhile, we show people the benefits of synthetic biology in their daily lives, lowering biases and boosting knowledge and skills!

Explore with us the Bioremediating Powers of Fungi!

Metal-Binding Peptides - the Key to Rare-Earth Extraction

Special peptides have the power to very selectively bind Rare-Earth Elements. We studied these peptides, producing and preparing them for applications by deploying them on solid filter matrices. We assessed their binding capabilities as well as found entirely new binding domains.

Learn about how we studied these special peptides!

MycoFlux - the Smart Cultivation and Extraction Unit

We designed, built and tested a novel apparatus that combines the cultivation of fungal biofilter material and the extraction process, easy for communities to deploy. Supported by an array of sensors, we performed field-tests for this innovative device and worked with future users to optimize its design and application.

See the MycoFlux in action for yourself!

Exploring Novel Peptide Dynamics through Computer Modeling

By applying state-of-the-art, AI-based modeling tools, we gained a deeper understanding of our Rare-Earth binding peptides. Through the use of AlphaFold2 and GROMACS, both open-source tools, we lay the groundwork for future projects aimed at enhancing the binding properties of the expressed peptides. We have successfully predicted the behavior of our peptides in water under atmospheric conditions.

Learn more about our molecular dynamics modeling!

Bioengineering a Fungal Biosorption Material

Our core idea is to express the Rare-Earth binding domains on the surface of fungi. Using yeast as a first step, we successfully expressed and displayed the binding domains on the fungi. We have showed that this genetically engineered biomaterial binds Rare-Earth ions very well, promising a highly effective future application.

Read about how we worked towards this exceptional biomaterial!

Creating Sustainable Impact, Locally and Globally - Together

E-waste recycling is an issue with a plethora of stakeholders. In our Human Practices, we incorporated their feedback and engaged them for a future of democratized, bio-based recycling! We have built an international network of industry, experts, and NGOs with a special focus on partners in Nigeria. With their help, we explored how our implementations could have a great sustainable impact: promoting decent and humane jobs, sensitizing people for sustainable consumption habits and introducing bio-based innovation where it is desperately needed!

Experience all the facets of our Sustainable Development Impact!

Providing the Modeling Tools for Process Adaptation Everywhere

We want to empower every community on earth to apply our decentralized recycling solutions. Supporting our Hardware implementations, we have modeled and simulated the cultivation and extraction process so communities can easily adapt this technology. This exploratory differential-algebraic model enables faster research by informing biological and process engineering design and operation choices!

Explore our process model!