Integrated System for Electromicrobial Production of Butanol from Air-Captured CO2
The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) team will jointly develop an integrated process to produce butanol directly from air-captured carbon dioxide (CO2). Butanol has a higher energy density than ethanol and is a precursor to jet fuel. UC Berkeley’s system takes three main inputs: ambient air, water, and a sustainable energy source, and produces butanol. The steps to produce butanol are : (1) capturing CO2 directly from the air by a solid adsorbent, (2) using a chemoautotrophic microorganism to biologically fix the captured CO2 into acetate, and (3) using acetate as a feedstock for the heterotrophic production of butanol via metabolically engineered bacteria. (Chemoautotrophs are organisms that consume CO2 and a chemical source of energy; heterotrophs are organisms that cannot utilize CO2 and instead metabolize organic compounds for nutrition.) Preliminary models indicate that butanol production from the proposed process will be more sustainable than traditional butanol fermentation.
UC Berkeley’s proposed process will result in a ground-breaking carbon capture system coupled with electromicrobial production of a renewable biofuel and precursor to jet fuel.