Separation, Recovery and Upgrading of 2,3-Butanediol from Fermentation Broth

Trideep Rajale, Xiaokun Yang, Elizabeth Judge, Cameron Moore, Abraham Martinez, Mond Guo, Karthikeyan Ramasamy, Richard Elander, Andrew Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


2,3-Butanediol (BDO) is a bio-derived building block available from biomass through biochemical methods in high titers (>120 g L-1) making it an attractive target for production and further upgrading to chemical products and fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel. A key challenge to enable the adoption of BDO as a precursor is the effective separation and isolation of this molecule from the fermentation broth. 2,3-Butanediol has a boiling point higher than that of water (177 degrees C), and as a consequence, separation via distillation methods is an energy-intensive and therefore costly approach. We have improved the BDO separation through conversion to a 1,3-dioxolane directly in fermentation broth via reaction with bio-derived aldehydes catalyzed by a solid acid catalyst. The resulting dioxolane phase separates from the fermentation broth, allowing for easy decantation and isolation in >90% isolated yield. Isolated dioxolane can be used directly as a compression iginition fuel, trans-acetalized to recover high-purity BDO or used directly in a catalytic process as a BDO synthon to produce methyl ethyl ketone with aldehyde recovery in near quantitative yield.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1003-1011
Number of pages9
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-86483


  • aviation fuel
  • biomass
  • butanediol
  • dioxolane
  • fermentation broth
  • separations
  • sustainable
  • upgrading


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