Chain Elongation with Reactor Microbiomes: Open-Culture Biotechnology To Produce Biochemicals

L.T. Angenent, H. Richter, W. Buckel, C.M. Spirito, K.J.J. Steinbusch, C.M. Plugge, D.P.B.T.B. Strik, T.I.M. Grootscholten, C.J.N. Buisman, H.V.M. Hamelers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

226 Citations (Scopus)


Chain elongation into medium-chain carboxylates, such as n-caproate and n-caprylate, with ethanol as an electron donor and with open cultures of microbial consortia (i.e., reactor microbiomes) under anaerobic conditions is being developed as a biotechnological production platform. The goal is to use the high thermodynamic efficiency of anaerobic fermentation to convert organic biomass or organic wastes into valuable biochemicals that can be extracted. Several liter-scale studies have been completed and a first pilot-plant study is underway. However, the underlying microbial pathways are not always well understood. In addition, an interdisciplinary approach with knowledge from fields ranging from microbiology and chemical separations to biochemistry and environmental engineering is required. To bring together research from different fields, we reviewed the literature starting with the microbiology and ending with the bioprocess engineering studies that already have been performed. Because understanding the microbial pathways is so important to predict and steer performance, we delved into a stoichiometric and thermodynamic model that sheds light on the effect of substrate ratios and environmental conditions on product formation. Finally, we ended with an outlook
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2796-2810
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Chain Elongation with Reactor Microbiomes: Open-Culture Biotechnology To Produce Biochemicals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this