Increased Biobutanol Production by Mediator-Less Electro-Fermentation

M. Engel, D. Holtmann, R. Ulber, N. Tippkötter,

A future bioeconomy should not only be based on renewable raw materials but also in the raise of carbon yields of existing production routes. Microbial electrochemical technologies are gaining increased attention for this purpose. In this study, the electrofermentative production of biobutanol with C. acetobutylicum without the use of exogenous mediators is investigated regarding the medium composition and the reactor design. It is shown that the use of an optimized synthetic culture medium allows higher product concentrations, increased biofilm formation, and higher conductivities compared to a synthetic medium supplemented with yeast extract. Moreover, the optimization of the reactor system results in a doubling of the maximum product concentrations for fermentation products. When a working electrode is polarized at 600mV vs. Ag/AgCl, a shift from butyrate to acetone and butanol production is induced. This leads to an increased final solvent yield of YABE=0.202gg-1 (control 0.103gg-1), which is also reflected in a higher carbon efficiency of 37.6% compared to 23.3% (control) as well as a fourfold decrease in simplified Efactor to 0.43. The results are promising for further development of biobutanol production in bioelectrochemical systems in order to fulfil the principles of Green Chemistry.

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