Production of Lignocellulosic Isobutanol by Fermentation and Conversion to Biojet
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Gevo has developed fermentation and process technology to convert biomass sugars to isobutanol and further into renewable jet fuel through chemical processing. As a key member of the NARA project, Gevo has developed GIFT®, Gevo Integrated Fermentation Technology, to produce isobutanol at high productivity, titer, and yield using a yeast biocatalyst adapted to woody biomass hydrolyzate. Within NARA, Gevo has developed the lignocellulosic fermentation process, and independently from NARA developed isobutanol recovery technology. Gevo separately advanced chemical technology to convert isobutanol through a patented process (dehydration, oligomerization, hydrogenation, and fractionation) into Alcohol-to-Jet (ATJ) Jet Fuel blendstock. Gevo worked for over eight years with ASTM, a worldwide standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards, to introduce Gevo’s ATJ technology into the specification D7566 “Standard Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuel Containing Synthesized Hydrocarbons”. This newly-revised standard now supports isobutanol based alcohol-to-jet use in commercial aviation jet fuels. Gevo has supported the development of a bench-scale process and scale up of the conversion of lignocellulosic sugars from softwood biomass (Douglas Fir forest residuals and Western Hemlock fiber waste streams) from the Pacific Northwest. The specific tasks of the NARA project have been: (1) Characterize toxicity of a representative sample of pre-treated woody biomass (Douglas Fir) for fermentation; (2) Adapt yeast biocatalyst to pretreated biomass hydrolyzate; (3) Produce isobutanol in a 1L batch fermentation from pretreated biomass sugars using the adapted yeast biocatalyst; (4) Economic assessment of wood to isobutanol, jet; (5) Produce isobutanol in a 1L GIFT® fermentation from pretreated biomass sugars using the adapted yeast biocatalyst; (6) Analysis of isobutanol to close the mass balance and determine potential low-level impurities; (7) Support production of ≥1000 gallons isobutanol from GIFT® fermentations at 40,000 L-plus demonstration scale; and (8) Support conversion of lignocellulosic isobutanol to ≥ 1000 gallons ATJ jet fuel blendstock using Gevo patented technology for further testing. Webinar available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6jNOOMdimk.