Skip to main content

Fuels from electricity: de novo metabolic conversion of electrochemically produced formate into hydrocarbons

Objective

For biorefined fuels to fully replace fossil carbons, we must identify feedstock sources which are essentially unlimited in capacity and scalability and are independent of agriculture and forestry land use. Here, we propose to use electricity – preferably produced from renewable sources and at off pick hours – as the sole energy source for microbial growth and the conversion of CO2 into fuels. We aim to tackle the shortcoming of previous technologies by using completely soluble formate as a mediator between electrical current and living cells. Within an integrated electrobioreactor, CO2 will be reduced to formate at a very high rate, and the formate will be consumed by an engineered E. coli to produce propane and isobutene, gaseous hydrocarbons that are easy to separate from the liquid broth. Both propane and isobutene can be further converted into a range of products, including excellent fuel substitutes (e.g., isooctane), using conventional chemical engineering methodologies. Our approach comprises a truly interdisciplinary effort. Material scientists will design novel electrode compositions and structures, which will be used by electrochemists to optimize electrochemical formate production at high efficiency and current density. Metabolic engineers will adapt E. coli for growth on formate via two synthetic formate assimilation pathways, specifically designed to fit the metabolism of this model bacterium. Synthetic pathways for propane and isobutene biosynthesis will be implemented in the formatotrophic strains. Process engineers will construct a unique electrobioreactor to support simultaneous formate production and consumption. Experts in environmental assessment will analyze the benefits of the suggested technology, and the project vision and results will be disseminated to the scientific community and general public. The technology put forward in this proposal could have a transformative effect on the way we produce our chemicals and fuels.

Call for proposal

H2020-LCE-2017-RES-RIA-TwoStage
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

RIA - Research and Innovation action

Coordinator

MAX-PLANCK-GESELLSCHAFT ZUR FORDERUNG DER WISSENSCHAFTEN EV
Address
Hofgartenstrasse 8
80539 Muenchen
Germany
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 572 425

Participants (13)

UNIVERSITY OF STUTTGART
Germany
EU contribution
€ 346 843,75
Address
Keplerstrasse 7
70174 Stuttgart
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
UNIVERSIDAD DE ALICANTE
Spain
EU contribution
€ 299 298,75
Address
Campus De San Vicente Raspeig
03690 Alicante
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
SINTEF AS
Norway
EU contribution
€ 350 000
Address
Strindvegen 4
7034 Trondheim
Activity type
Research Organisations
COMMISSARIAT A L ENERGIE ATOMIQUE ET AUX ENERGIES ALTERNATIVES
France
EU contribution
€ 349 785
Address
Rue Leblanc 25
75015 Paris 15
Activity type
Research Organisations
WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Israel
EU contribution
€ 149 537,50
Address
Herzl Street 234
7610001 Rehovot
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY AND MEDICINE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 351 293,75
Address
South Kensington Campus Exhibition Road
SW7 2AZ London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
ALTAR
France
EU contribution
€ 496 125
Address
5 Rue Henri Desbrueres Bio Cluster Genopole Campus
91030 Evry
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
GLOBAL BIOENERGIES
France
EU contribution
€ 159 493,75
Address
5 Rue Henri Desbrueres
91000 Evry
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
C3 BIO-TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 149 875
Address
20 Mannin Way Lancaster Business Park Caton Road
LA1 3SW Lancaster Lancastershire
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
ARCELORMITTAL BELGIUM NV
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 156 875
Address
Keizerinlaan 66
1000 Brussel
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
IFEU - INSTITUT FUR ENERGIE- UND UMWELTFORSCHUNG HEIDELBERG GGMBH
Germany
EU contribution
€ 200 000
Address
Wilckensstrasse 3
69120 Heidelberg
Activity type
Research Organisations
BIOFACTION KG
Austria
EU contribution
€ 309 280
Address
Kundmanngasse 39/12
1030 Wien
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
IN SRL
Italy
EU contribution
€ 226 375
Address
Via Carducci 9A
33100 Udine
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)