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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2007 Jun 1;97(2):279-86.

Growth of Rhodospirillum rubrum on synthesis gas: conversion of CO to H2 and poly-beta-hydroxyalkanoate.

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Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


To examine the potential use of synthesis gas as a carbon and energy source in fermentation processes, Rhodospirillum rubrum was cultured on synthesis gas generated from discarded seed corn. The growth rates, growth and poly-beta-hydroxyalkanoates (PHA) yields, and CO oxidation/H(2) evolution rates were evaluated in comparison to the rates observed with an artificial synthesis gas mixture. Depending on the gas conditioning system used, synthesis gas either stimulated or inhibited CO-oxidation rates compared to the observations with the artificial synthesis gas mixture. Inhibitory and stimulatory compounds in synthesis gas could be removed by the addition of activated charcoal, char-tar, or char-ash filters (char, tar, and ash are gasification residues). In batch fermentations, approximately 1.4 mol CO was oxidized per day per g cell protein with the production of 0.75 mol H(2) and 340 mg PHA per day per g cell protein. The PHA produced from R. rubrum grown on synthesis gas was composed of 86% beta-hydroxybutyrate and 14% beta-hydroxyvalerate. Mass transfer of CO into the liquid phase was determined as the rate-limiting step in the fermentation.

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