Biotechnological 2,3-Butanediol Production – Design of a Microaerobic Fermentation Process

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The aim of the cluster of excellence “Tailor-Made Fuels from Biomass” (TMFB) at RWTH Aachen University is the investigation and development of new fuel candidates, which can be produced by sustainable and economical production processes. Thus, TMFB aims at the establishment of new value chains from biomass by providing innovative solutions for selective conversion to value-added products. In particular, the production of new fuels or fuel components is targeted as it represents a highly important application, which at the same time imposes challenging requirements on process development. Within the cluster, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the fields of biology, chemistry as well as (bio)chemical, process and combustion engineering joins forces to realize this vision.

Biotechnological 2,3-butanediol production is a key element in the development of a process chain from plant biomass to the new fuel compound methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). During the fermentation process, glucose is converted to 2,3-butanediol by Bacillus licheniformis, a non-pathogenic natural 2,3-butanediol producer.

Oxygen availability during the cultivation is a critical parameter. Different fermentation modes and process alternatives are investigated to find a suitable compromise between fast, oxygen dependent cell growth and anaerobic product formation. To realize sustainable and economic production, the utilization of pretreated lignocellulosic biomass as substrate, as well as different options for downstream processing and selective conversion of 2,3-butanediol will be investigated in collaboration with several partners within the cluster.