Archive 'research notes' on biobutanol production
In November 2009, researchers at UCLA announced that modified strains of Synechococcus elongatus could produce isobutyraldehyde and isobutanol directly from carbon dioxide [Source: Nature Biotechnology 27].
Research was also being carried out into the production of 2,3 butanediol (a potential biofuel) from agricultural residues (e.g. hydrolysis of hemicellulose-rich fractions by Trichoderma harzianum followed by fermentations using Klebsiella pneumoniae). Improved fermentation efficiency was one of the focuses of the FP7 SUPRABIO project.
Various biobutanol researchers are working with modified Clostridium strains.
Hydrolysis of cellulosic raw materials prior to butanol conversion potentially offers greatly increased yields. In research published by the USDA in 2007, wheat straw was hydrolyzed to lignocellulosic component sugars (glucose, xylose, arabinose, galactose, and mannose) prior to their conversion to butanol, by Clostridium beijerinckii P260. The rate of production of wheat straw hydrolysate to butanol was 214% over that from glucose.
Ongoing genetic research focused on 'gene knock-out' systems in Clostridium strains, whereby the enzymes that catalyse competing reactions (which produce Acetone, Ethanol, etc) are 'removed'.
Research into the ABE fermentation process has addressed issues of end-product inhibition and control of phage infection, but this technology has now been superceded by more advanced biotechnology, which are now being demonstrated at commercial-scale (as described above).