Microbial hydrocarbon formation from biomass

Adrie J.J. Straathof*, Maria C. Cuellar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Fossil carbon sources mainly contain hydrocarbons, and these are used on a huge scale as fuel and chemicals. Producing hydrocarbons from biomass instead is receiving increased attention. Achievable yields are modest because oxygen atoms need to be removed from biomass, keeping only the lighter carbon and hydrogen atoms. Microorganisms can perform the required conversions, potentially with high selectivity, using metabolic pathways that often end with decarboxylation. Metabolic and protein engineering are used successfully to achieve hydrocarbon production levels that are relevant in a biorefinery context. This has led to pilot or demo processes for hydrocarbons such as isobutene, isoprene, and farnesene. In addition, some non-hydrocarbon fermentation products are being further converted into hydrocarbons using a final chemical step, for example, ethanol into ethene. The main advantage of direct microbial production of hydrocarbons, however, is their potentially easy recovery because they do not dissolve in fermentation broth.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiorefineries
EditorsK. Wagemann, N. Tippkötter
ISBN (Print) 978-3319971179
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology
ISSN (Print)0724-6145


  • Gaseous products
  • Isoprenoids
  • Product recovery
  • Yields


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