There is an immediate need to drastically reduce the emissions associated with global fossil fuel consumption in order to limit climate change. However, carbon-based materials, chemicals, and transportation fuels are predominantly made from fossil sources and currently there is no alternative source available to adequately displace them. Gas-fermenting microorganisms that fix carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) can break this dependence as they are capable of converting gaseous carbon to fuels and chemicals. As such, the technology can utilize a wide range of feedstocks including gasified organic matter of any sort (e.g., municipal solid waste, industrial waste, biomass, and agricultural waste residues) or industrial off-gases (e.g., from steel mills or processing plants). Gas fermentation has matured to the point that large-scale production of ethanol from gas has been demonstrated by two companies. This review gives an overview of the gas fermentation process, focusing specifically on anaerobic acetogens. Applications of synthetic biology and coupling gas fermentation to additional processes are discussed in detail. Both of these strategies, demonstrated at bench-scale, have abundant potential to rapidly expand the commercial product spectrum of gas fermentation and further improve efficiencies and yields.
Liew, F. M., Martin, M. E., Tappel, R. C., Heijstra, B. D., Mihalcea, C., & Köpke, M. (2016). Gas Fermentation-A flexible platform for commercial scale production of low-carbon-fuels and chemicals from waste and renewable feedstocks. Frontiers in Microbiology. Frontiers Media S.A. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2016.00694