Many industrial chemicals that are produced from fossil resources could be manufactured more sustainably through fermentation. Here we describe the development of a carbon-negative fermentation route to producing the industrially important chemicals acetone and isopropanol from abundant, low-cost waste gas feedstocks, such as industrial emissions and syngas. Using a combinatorial pathway library approach, we first mined a historical industrial strain collection for superior enzymes that we used to engineer the autotrophic acetogen Clostridium autoethanogenum. Next, we used omics analysis, kinetic modeling and cell-free prototyping to optimize flux. Finally, we scaled-up our optimized strains for continuous production at rates of up to ~3 g/L/h and ~90% selectivity. Life cycle analysis confirmed a negative carbon footprint for the products. Unlike traditional production processes, which result in release of greenhouse gases, our process fixes carbon. These results show that engineered acetogens enable sustainable, high-efficiency, high-selectivity chemicals production. We expect that our approach can be readily adapted to a wide range of commodity chemicals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Molecular Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering