In the beginning there was nothing. At a certain moment small molecules were formed, which together formed a primordial soup. But how larger molecules, which are important for the origin of life, have evolved from that primordial soup, we still don’t know. But what if I tell you that the method that nature used back then, now can be of use to extract valuable molecules from wastewater so that we can recycle them. We investigate how molecules in the primordial soup were brought together. In our view this could have happened because RNA, which has a negative charge, can form structures with positively charged molecules. In these structures small molecules can be captured and these small molecules can then react to larger molecules. This could have been a very important step in the origin of life. In a way, wastewater resembles the primordial soup and here the same kind of structures can be formed to capture small molecules. And that's what I like about my research, that I can apply knowledge from the primordial soup to new chemical processes.

University of Twente

How life evolved from the primordial soup is still a mystery, but we have ideas about the molecules which were present in this soup. Saskia Lindhoud investigates how to bring these molecules together in structures and whether in these structures larger molecules could have formed. In a way, our wastewater resembles the primordial soup. Therefore the same principles can be used to capture valuable molecules from wastewater in order to recycle them.

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