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Bioresour Technol. 2010 Jul;101(13):5013-22. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.12.098. Epub 2010 Jan 21.

Biomass-derived syngas fermentation into biofuels: Opportunities and challenges.

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Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Agricultural Science Building 218, 1955 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA.


The conversion of biomass-derived synthesis gas (or syngas in brief) into biofuels by microbial catalysts (such as Clostridium ljungdahlii, Clostridium autoethanogenum, Acetobacterium woodii, Clostridium carboxidivorans and Peptostreptococcus productus) has gained considerable attention as a promising alternative for biofuel production in the recent past. The utilization of the whole biomass, including lignin, irrespective of biomass quality, the elimination of complex pre-treatment steps and costly enzymes, a higher specificity of biocatalysts, an independence of the H(2):CO ratio for bioconversion, bioreactor operation at ambient conditions, and no issue of noble metal poisoning are among the major advantages of this process. Poor mass transfer properties of the gaseous substrates (mainly CO and H(2)) and low ethanol yield of biocatalysts are the biggest challenges preventing the commercialization of syngas fermentation technology. This paper critically reviews the existing literature in biomass-derived syngas fermentation into biofuels, specifically, different biocatalysts, factors affecting syngas fermentation, and mass transfer. The paper also outlines the major challenges of syngas fermentation, key performance index and technology road map, and discusses the further research needs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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