A Novel Integrated Fermentation Process with Engineered Microbial Consortia for Butanol Production from Lignocellulose Sugars without CO2 Emission

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Columbus, Ohio
Project Term:
08/05/2021 - 08/04/2024

Technology Description:

The Ohio State University is designing, modeling, and constructing synthetic microbial groups consisting of three bacterial species. Lactic acid bacterium, a carboxydotrophic acetogen, and a solventogenic clostridium are grown in a consortium that produces n-butanol, an advanced biofuel and industrial chemical used in plastics, polymers, lubricants, brake fluids, and synthetic rubber. The bacteria will react with lignocellulose sugars (mainly glucose and xylose) and formate (from CO2 produced by electrochemical reduction) in a biorefinery. This solution will maximize carbon conversion and butanol production with a 100% theoretical product yield and zero or negative CO2 emissions. With a 50% higher product yield from glucose compared with current acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation with corn, biobutanol can be produced at prices that compete with gasoline, bioethanol, and the existing ABE fermentation technologies with greater carbon efficiency.

Potential Impact:

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.


If successful, the new technologies are expected to catalyze new conversion platforms for biofuels and other high-volume bioproducts that are capable of promoting U.S. energy security by increasing recoverable product from the same mass of feedstock through the avoidance of wasting carbon in the form of CO2.


This program funds cutting-edge technologies to de-risk the engineering of carbon optimized bioconversion pathways capable of generating valuable bioproducts such as sustainable aviation fuel without emission of CO2 as a waste product.


The technologies funded by this program can increase the potential bioproduct output by more than 40% without requiring another square inch of land or pound of feedstock, while catalyzing the next generation of carbon optimized bio-based manufacturing.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Steven Singer
Project Contact:
Prof. Shang-Tian Yang
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Project Contact Email:


University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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