Bio-Butadiene Producing Butadiene by Direct Fermentation

Editor: M.A. Manja Wühr

Getting more independent of fossil resources — this is the promise of the new production process of bio-butadiene, an important petrochemical building block.

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Gas chromatography screening
Gas chromatography screening
(Picture: Guillaume Gaessler)

Evry/France – Already 2011 Global Bioenergies has signed a collaboration agreement with Synthos (Warsaw/Poland), a producer of butadiene-derived rubber products, to develop a direct fermentation route allowing a cost-effective transformation of renewable resources into butadiene.

Since such a direct biological route does not exist in nature, Global Bioenergies first had to invent a new metabolic pathway comprised of a series of non-natural enzymatic reactions. This step was successfully achieved in December 2012.

New Bacterial Strain Produces Butadiene

The next step consisted in improving the activity of those enzymes and implementing them into a bacterial strain. According to the company they recently have created such a proprietary production strain. This strain was placed in a lab-scale fermentation device, and upon the addition of glucose, the presence of butadiene in the off-gases was detected. This is the first time ever that the production of butadiene by direct fermentation from renewable resources has been reported.

Chief Technology Officer Frédéric Pâques comments: “We now have in our hands a prototype process for the direct biological conversion of renewable resources into butadiene. We expect that this butadiene program will deploy in the next years as did our isobutene process, our most mature asset now operated in an industrial pilot. Direct fermentation of butadiene has major inherent advantages translating into better economics. We expect to demonstrate these in an industrial environment in the next few years.”