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Title: Bioconversion of Natural Gas to Liquid Fuel. Opportunities and Challenges

Natural gas is a mixture of low molecular weight hydrocarbon gases that can be generated from either fossil or anthropogenic resources. Although natural gas is used as a transportation fuel, constraints in storage, relatively low energy content (MJ/L), and delivery have limited widespread adoption. Advanced utilization of natural gas has been explored for biofuel production by microorganisms. In recent years, the aerobic bioconversion of natural gas (or primarily the methane content of natural gas) into liquid fuels (Bio-GTL) by biocatalysts (methanotrophs) has gained increasing attention as a promising alternative for drop-in biofuel production. Moreover, methanotrophic bacteria are capable of converting methane into microbial lipids, which can in turn be converted into renewable diesel via a hydrotreating process. In this paper, biodiversity, catalytic properties and key enzymes and pathways of these microbes are summarized. Bioprocess technologies are discussed based upon existing literature, including cultivation conditions, fermentation modes, bioreactor design, and lipid extraction and upgrading. Our review also outlines the potential of Bio-GTL using methane as an alternative carbon source as well as the major challenges and future research needs of microbial lipid accumulation derived from methane, key performance index, and techno-economic analysis. An analysis of raw material costs suggests that methane-derivedmore » diesel fuel has the potential to be competitive with petroleum-derived diesel.« less
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  1. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Biotechnology Advances; Journal Volume: 32; Journal Issue: 3, May-June 2014
Research Org:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-e), Washington, DC (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States