Director’s Note: Three Partners, Two Problems, One Bioenergy Research Article Published

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Bioenergy Technologies Office


March 23, 2022

Director’s Note: Three Partners, Two Problems, One Bioenergy Research Article Published

Valerie Sarisky-Reed

One of the most exciting things about bioenergy is the potential for one innovation to solve multiple problems. The journal Nature Biotechnology recently published a paper featuring cutting-edge work funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). The article details a carbon-negative platform that uses microorganisms to convert carbon captured from agricultural, industrial, and societal waste streams into useful chemicals. Three entities—LanzaTech, Northwestern University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)—worked together to develop a new process to make acetone and isopropanol.

Here’s how the work came together: LanzaTech, a private company driving innovation in the production of sustainable aviation fuel and chemicals, began the research when scientists commercialized a process that uses bacterial strains to produce ethanol from gaseous-waste carbon emissions. Northwestern University expanded the work by completing cell-free prototyping using cutting-edge synthetic biology tools, and ORNL worked on continuous molecular analysis by applying its unique DNA sequencing and systems biology capabilities.

BETO—and the U.S. Department of Energy, more broadly—is able to meet aggressive bioenergy goals that support decarbonization within our economy because of the excellent work from our partners that continue to move the industry toward a clean energy future.

Read more in the Bioprose: Bioenergy R&D Blog.

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