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Cell-free synthetic biochemistry upgrading of ethanol to 1,3 butanediol.

  • Author(s): Liu, Hongjiang
  • Bowie, James U
  • et al.

It is now possible to efficiently fix flue gas CO/CO2 into ethanol using acetogens, thereby making carbon negative ethanol. While the ethanol could be burned as a fuel, returning the CO2 to the atmosphere, it might also be possible to use the fixed carbon in more diverse chemicals, thereby keeping it fixed. Here we describe a simple synthetic biochemistry approach for converting carbon negative ethanol into the synthetic building block chemical 1,3 butanediol (1,3-BDO). The pathway completely conserves carbon from ethanol and can ultimately be powered electrochemically via formate oxidation. Our proof-of-principle system reached a maximum productivity of 0.16 g/L/h and, with replenishment of feedstock and enzymes, achieved a titer of 7.7 g/L. We identify a number of elements that can be addressed in future work to improve both cell-free and cell-based production of 1,3-BDO.

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