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Keywords:

  • carbon dioxide fixation;
  • acetogen;
  • biofuel;
  • syngas fermentation;
  • metabolic engineering

Anaerobic bacteria such as Moorella thermoacetica have the capacity of fixing carbon dioxide with carbon monoxide and hydrogen for the production of ethanol, acetic acid, and other useful chemicals. In this study, we evaluated the fixation of CO2 for the production of acetic acid, as a product in its own right but also as precursor for lipid synthesis by oleaginous organisms. We achieved maximum cell optical density of 11.3, acetic acid titer of 31 g/L, and productivity of 0.55 g/L-h at CO mass-transfer rate of 83 mM/h. We also showed electron availability by CO mass transfer limited the process at CO mass transfer rates lower than 30 mM/h. Further enhancement of mass-transfer rate removed such limitations in favor of biological kinetics as main limitation. This work underlines the potential of microbial processes for converting syngas to fuel and chemical products in processes suitable for distributed feedstock utilization. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 3176–3183, 2013