Acetate as a Platform for Carbon-Negative Production of Renewable Fuels and Chemicals
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison aims to develop an integrated process to convert CO2 and renewable H2 into molecules that can be blended with liquid transportation fuels or used in various chemical applications. The project eliminates CO2 release in the production of chemicals by integrating the unique and efficient capabilities of two microorganisms. The first produces acetate from CO2 and H2 while the second upgrades acetate to higher-value chemical products. The CO2 released in the upgrading process is recycled internally to produce more acetate. This carbon utilization process is designed to operate with zero CO2 release. The process offers an alternative paradigm to the current bioeconomy where acetate is the primary energy carrier instead of sugars. The process bypasses photosynthesis and the barriers created by biomass as primary chemical feedstock. It can be scaled to match existing sources of CO2 emissions and located anywhere renewable H2 can be provided. The work will develop microorganisms with optimized metabolism for producing acetate and converting to model products.
The application of biology to sustainable uses of waste carbon resources for the generation of energy, intermediates, and final products---i.e., supplanting the “bioeconomy”—provides economic, environmental, social, and national security benefits and offers a promising means of carbon management.