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Keywords:

  • acetone–butanol–ethanol fermentation;
  • butanol;
  • Clostridium acetobutylicum;
  • fed-batch fermentation;
  • gas stripping

Abstract

Acetone–butanol–ethanol (ABE) fermentation with a hyper-butanol producing Clostridium acetobutylicum JB200 was studied for its potential to produce a high titer of butanol that can be readily recovered with gas stripping. In batch fermentation without gas stripping, a final butanol concentration of 19.1 g/L was produced from 86.4 g/L glucose consumed in 78 h, and butanol productivity and yield were 0.24 g/L h and 0.21 g/g, respectively. In contrast, when gas stripping was applied intermittently in fed-batch fermentation, 172 g/L ABE (113.3 g/L butanol, 49.2 g/L acetone, 9.7 g/L ethanol) were produced from 474.9 g/L glucose in six feeding cycles over 326 h. The overall productivity and yield were 0.53 g/L h and 0.36 g/g for ABE and 0.35 g/L h and 0.24 g/g for butanol, respectively. The higher productivity was attributed to the reduced butanol concentration in the fermentation broth by gas stripping that alleviated butanol inhibition, whereas the increased butanol yield could be attributed to the reduced acids accumulation as most acids produced in acidogenesis were reassimilated by cells for ABE production. The intermittent gas stripping produced a highly concentrated condensate containing 195.9 g/L ABE or 150.5 g/L butanol that far exceeded butanol solubility in water. After liquid–liquid demixing or phase separation, a final product containing ∼610 g/L butanol, ∼40 g/L acetone, ∼10 g/L ethanol, and no acids was obtained. Compared to conventional ABE fermentation, the fed-batch fermentation with intermittent gas stripping has the potential to reduce at least 90% of energy consumption and water usage in n-butanol production from glucose. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2012; 109: 2746–2756. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.