Microbial CO conversions with applications in synthesis gas purification and bio-desulfurization.

J. Sipma, A.M. Henstra, S.N. Parshina, P.N.L. Lens, G. Lettinga, A.J.M. Stams

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73 Citations (Scopus)


Recent advances in the field of microbial physiology demonstrate that carbon monoxide is a readily used substrate by a wide variety of anaerobic micro-organisms, and may be employed in novel biotechnological. processes for production of bulk and fine chemicals or in biological treatment of waste streams. Synthesis gas produced from fossil fuels or biomass is rich in hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Conversion of carbon monoxide to hydrogen allows use of synthesis gas in existing hydrogen utilizing processes and is interesting in view of a transition from hydrogen production from fossil fuels to sustainable (CO2-neutral) biomass. The conversion of CO with H2O to CO2 and H-2 is catalyzed by a rapidly increasing group of micro-organisms. Hydrogen is a preferred electron donor in biotechnological desulfurization of wastewaters and flue gases. Additionally, CO is a good alternative electron donor considering the recent isolation of a CO oxidizing, sulfate reducing bacterium. Here we review CO utilization by various anaerobic micro-organisms and their possible role in biotechnological processes, with a focus on hydrogen production and bio-desulfurization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-65
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • carbon-monoxide dehydrogenase
  • acid-mine drainage
  • h-2-forming methylenetetrahydromethanopterin dehydrogenase
  • biological sulfate reduction
  • metal-free hydrogenase
  • sp-nov
  • carboxydothermus-hydrogenoformans
  • gen.-nov.
  • clostridium-thermoaceticum
  • rhodospi

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