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Fermentative Butanol Production

Bulk Chemical and Biofuel


Address for correspondence: Prof. Dr. Peter Dürre, Institut für Mikrobiologie und Biotechnologie, Universität Ulm, 89069 Ulm, Germany. Voice: +49-731-5022710; fax: +49-731-5022719.


Clostridium acetobutylicum is an anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium with the ability to ferment starch and sugars into solvents. In the past, it has been used for industrial production of acetone and butanol, until cheap crude oil rendered petrochemical synthesis more economically feasible. Both economic (price of crude oil) and environmental aspects (carbon dioxide emissions) have caused the pendulum to swing back again. Molecular biology has allowed a detailed understanding of genes and enzymes, required for solventogenesis. Thus, construction of strains with improved fermentation ability is now possible. Advances in continuous culture technology and improved downstream processing also add to economic advantages of a new biotechnological process. Two major companies have already committed themselves to biobutanol production as a biofuel additive. Thus, butanol fermentation is on the rise again.