Evaluating the Feasibility of Higher Titers and Yields for 2,3-Butanediol Production to Achieve the Biofuel Industry Economic Goal of Under $3.50 GGE

Research output: NRELPoster


To achieve the economic goal of producing biofuels that can compete with petroleum-based products, we increased titers of 2,3-butanediol (BDO) production. BDO has many advantages over ethanol; including lower toxicity, higher heat of capacity, and is a precursor to various valuable applications. To produce BDO for fuel upgrading, we have genetically modified Zymomonas mobilis (YC-1). Several materials and feed strategies were evaluated to determine the best titer and economic feasibility. Titers from DMR corn stover in a batch process were in the range of 70-80 g/L. The fully hydrolyzed material was easy to work with but suffered from dilution issues. We pushed the concentration of solids to above 25% w/w and were met with numerous challenges. This included an initial sugar concentration above 150 g/L, the high solid concentration altered the oxygen mass transfer rate and affected which products were produced, and the fermentation conditions were not optimal for the enzyme. Despite these challenges, our current results yielded 100 g/L of upgradeable products (70 g/L BDO and 30 g/L acetoin) and 83% fermentation process yield. However, the poor enzymatic hydrolysis yield of 64%, unconverted xylose, and the high acetoin levels warrant further exploration for optimization. Using unhydrolyzed solids as the feed material, we achieved titers in the range of 75-95 g/L BDO. The raw solids feed, though operationally more challenging to work with, proved to be promising as the rate of hydrolysis promoted co-utilization of the sugars. We reached 150 g/L BDO using concentrated DDR liquors under boules and continuous feeding strategies. The clarified liquors showed high titers, high productivity, high yield, and high sugar utilization with little drawback operationally. The target goal of under $3.50 GGE was achieved in several feeding strategies. Scale-up feasibility has also been demonstrated at the 100L scale using both whole slurry and liquor hydrolysates.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 44st Symposium on Biotechnology for Fuels & Chemicals, 1-4 May 2022, New Orleans, Louisiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-2700-82806


  • butanediol
  • SSF
  • Zymomonas mobilis


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