We are engineering strains of Clostridium to convert lignocellulosic feedstocks into biofuel in a single fermentation step. Our industrial partner provides a pilot plant and a direct route to the biofuel and commodity chemicals market.
Biofuels are currently produced using feedstocks that could be used as food, with unacceptable ethical and food security implications in the long-term. Non-food lignocellulosic feedstocks are cheap and abundant, but few organisms are able to efficiently utilise them.
Some Clostridium species naturally produce the biofuel butanol, and have a long history of industrial use. Other Clostridium species can utilise lignocellulose by producing ‘cellulosomes’ — extracellular enzyme complexes with the highest activity found in nature against lignocellulose.
We are using a Synthetic Biology approach to equip butanol-producing Clostridium strains with recombinant ‘designer’ cellulosomes, tailored to individual real-world feedstocks. These strains will be suitable for industrial consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) — the conversion of lignocellulosic feedstocks into biofuel in a single fermentation step.
The key collaborators for this BSBEC programme are:
Overview of project
- One or more Clostridium strains producing cellulosomes tailored to particular real-world feedstocks, suitable for industrial consolidated bioprocessing (CBP).
- A mature general strain engineering capacity, employing a Synthetic Biology approach.
- A capability to produce Clostridium CBP strains tailored to different real-world cellulosic feedstocks.
- A commercialisation route to the biofuels and commodity chemicals industry.
- One or more Clostridium CBP strains under evaluation on the pilot scale or larger.