Submitted to: In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plants
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/2/2009
Publication Date: 4/3/2009
Citation: Gibbons, W.R., Hughes, S.R. 2009. Integrated biorefineries with engineered microbes and high-value co-products for profitable biofuels production. In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology - Plants. 45:218-228. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: First-generation (ie., corn-based) fuel ethanol production processes provide several advantages which could be synergistically applied to overcome limitations of second-generation biofuel processes from lignocellulose. These include resources such as equipment, manpower, nutrients, water, and heat. The fact that several demonstration-scale biomass ethanol processes are using corn-based plants as a platform supports this viewpoint. In this chapter, we summarize the advantages of first-generation biofuel processes, then describe the technologies, advantages, and limitations of second-generation biofuel systems. This is followed by a discussion of the potential synergies of fully integrating first- and second-generation processes. We conclude with an overview of the technology improvements that are needed to enhance the profitability of biofuel production through development of an integrated biorefinery. A key requirement is creation of industrially robust, multifunctional ethanologens that are engineered for maximum ethanol production from mixed sugars. In addition to ethanol, combined biorefineries could also be the source of valuable co-products, such as chemicals and plastics. However, this will require expression systems be incorporated into the ethanologens that allow production of high-value co-products. Advantages of this approach are that: 1) such strains could be used for bioconversion in any part of the combined biorefinery, and 2) using one recombinant organism with many additions will simplify the process of obtaining necessary FDA approval for feed products produced by or containing recombinant organisms.