Cornell researchers develop ethanol production from anaerobic microbe

July 26, 2016 |

In New York state, Cornell University biological engineers have deciphered the cellular strategy to make the ethanol, using an anaerobic microbe feeding on carbon monoxide. To make biofuel from inorganic, gaseous industrial rubbish, the researchers learned that the bacterium Clostridium ljungdahlii responds thermodynamically – rather than genetically – in the process of tuning favorable enzymatic reactions.

To get the microbe to ferment the carbon monoxide, scientists “bubble it in the growth medium solution,” explains Ludmilla Aristilde, assistant professor in biological and environmental engineering, where the cells can feed on it. Angenent said carbon monoxide gas emitted as a byproduct of heavy industries – such as the process for coking coal in the production of steel – can potentially be channeled to bioreactors that contain these bacterial cells.

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Category: Research

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