Integration of CO2 Electrolysis with Microbial Syngas Upgrading to Rewire the Carbon Economy

Research output: NRELPresentation


This project has worked towards demonstrating and understanding the conversion of waste CO2 into value added fuels and chemicals. If successful, our proposed technology will incentivize CO2 capture and can add carbon efficiency to biorefineries. We have integrated two conversion technologies to demonstrate a novel approach of combining electrolytic CO2 reduction with biocatalytic CO upgrading. Industrial partners 3M and Dioxide Materials have recently demonstrated electrolytic conversion of CO2 and water to syngas using inexpensive renewable energy. Concurrently, supporting partner Lanzatech has demonstrated industrial scale CO fermentation using steel mill waste CO as a substrate. This presentation will highlight the investment BETO has made to establish a CO2 electrolysis test station and CO fermentation at NREL. We will also discuss the process of increasing the size of the electrolyzers to meet fermentation needs, along with the investigation into the affect CO2 concentration and contaminates have on electrolyzer efficiency, lifetime, and specificity. Additionally, we have begun to examine the downstream impact of electrolyzer off-gas CO:H2 ratios have on the metabolism of C. autoethanologen. Experimental results along input from our industrial partners have led to a baseline techno-economic and life cycle analyses. These results enabled the identification of key cost drivers and carbon intensity of the process. We have used these metrics to identify technology gaps to iteratively inform the process optimization and potential deployment siting to achieve economically viable, sustainable conversion of biopower-derived flue gases to fuels and chemical intermediates.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages33
StatePublished - 2020

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-5100-79346


  • bioenergy
  • carbon economy
  • syngas
  • waste CO2


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