BETO 2021 Peer Review - Enhancing Acetogen Formate Utilization to Value-Added Products

Jonathan Lo

Research output: NRELPresentation


Electricity from a diversity of sources is increasingly utilized due to its low cost. However, since much of this energy is intermittently generated, there is a mismatch between energy demand and supply. Cheap intermittent energy offers opportunities to utilize this energy and generate value-added chemicals. Low-cost electricity can be used to chemically reduce CO2 to formate and methanol, which then can be upgraded to useful chemicals. To utilize formate for production of valuable chemicals, we decided to focus on Clostridium ljungdahlii as our host organism due to several advantages: it can already utilize formate under some conditions, it has the most developed genetic system for acetogens, and is a model organism for the Wood-Ljungdahl Pathway, the most efficient anaerobic carbon fixation pathway. Formate is a feedstock for a variety of bacteria and has several advantages to gaseous electrochemical products, including ease of storage and miscibility in liquid. Acetogens naturally take C1 compounds and convert them to higher chain products through acetyl-CoA, which is a precursor to many valuable products including carboxylic acids and alcohols. For this project, as a proof of concept, we are focusing on converting formate to butanol. This task primarily relies on two parts: improving formate utilization and installing a butanol pathway. First, we characterized the conditions of native formate utilization in C. ljungdahlii. We also have begun working on genetic tools to delete and express genes.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the U.S. Department of Energy's Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) 2021 Project Peer Review, 8-12, 15-16, and 22-26 March 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-2700-79300


  • Clostridium ljungdahlii
  • intermittent energy
  • reduce CO2


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