Bioconversion of Thermochemical Intermediates

Research output: NRELPresentation


Thermochemical (TC) biofuels production via both pyrolysis and hydrothermal liquefaction produces aqueous waste streams, typically with organic compounds at concentrations of -50-100 g/L. These streams represent a wastewater treatment cost and carbon loss for the TC biorefinery, but the concentration range for these compounds is ideal for bioconversion. To that end, the Bioconversion of Thermochemical Intermediates (BTI) project is developing advanced analytics and engineered microbes to convert these waste streams to co-products, with the overall aim of improving the economics and carbon conversion efficiency of TC biorefining. To date, we have primarily focused on development of advanced analytical chemistry approaches to fully characterize TC aqueous streams and engineering of Pseudomonas putida for conversion of non-conventional substrates, including methylated phenolics, cyclic ketones, furans, and C1-C3 light oxygenates, into atom-efficient products. Two primary challenges are the rapid deployment of aqueous-compatible analytics to changing upstream conditions and dealing with the toxicity of the feed streams to engineered microbes. The project efforts have resulted in engineered strains of P. putida able to consume 90% of the organic compounds in aqueous waste streams from catalytic fast pyrolysis, more than 300-fold toxicity tolerance improvements in P. putida, and carbon closures exceeding 90% for TC wastewater streams across multiple processing technologies.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
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-2A00-79490


  • biofuels production
  • hydrothermal
  • liquefaction
  • pyrolysis
  • thermochemical


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