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Selective anaerobic fermentation of syngas into either C2-C6 organic acids or ethanol and higher alcohols

Fernández-Naveira, Ánxela, Veiga, María C., Kennes, Christian
Bioresource technology 2019 v.280 pp. 387-395
Clostridium, bioreactors, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ethanol, fatty acids, fermentation, pH, selenium, synthesis gas, tungsten
Clostridium carboxidivorans produces alcohols from C1 gases (CO, CO2), converting them first into fatty acids, and subsequently into alcohols. This research identified conditions that allow to selectively produce either fatty acids or alcohols. The conversion of gases into acids and then into alcohols is catalysed by metalloenzymes, stimulated by specific trace metals. Therefore, different bioreactors were set-up, either with or without addition of tungsten (W) or selenium (Se) and at different pHs. Combining the presence of those trace metals with a low pH (5.0) allowed to accumulate high amounts of alcohols as major end products (8038 mg/L total alcohols; 3027 mg/L total acids). Instead, maintaining a higher pH (6.2), in the absence of those trace metals, allowed to selectively produce organic acids (9577 mg/L) and almost no alcohols (676 mg/L). Omitting W, but not Se, at high pH (6.2), led to a still higher concentration of acids (11303 mg/L).