Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 857–873 | Cite as

Biological production of liquid and gaseous fuels from synthesis gas

  • K. T. Klasson
  • B. B. Elmore
  • J. L. Vega
  • M. D. Ackerson
  • E. C. Clausen
  • J. L. Gaddy
Session 5 Biological Processing of Fossil Fuels


Liquid and gaseous fuels may be produced biologically from coal by the indirect conversion of coal synthesis gas. Methane has been produced from synthesis gas using acetate and CO2/H2 as intermediates, utilizing a number of CO-utilizing and methanogenic bacteria. Also, a bacterium that is capable of producing ethanol from synthesis gas through indirect liquefaction has been isolated fron natural inocula. This paper summarizes research to optimize the performance of some of these cultures. These conversions, involving H2 and CO, which are only slightly soluble in the liquid media, may be mass transfer limited, and methods to enhance mass transport are examined. Experimental results and models for several reactor designs, including CSTR and packed columns, are presented and discussed.

Index Entries

Synthesis gas ethanol methane mass transfer limited bioreactors 



Interfacial area/unit volume of liquid cm-1


Gas flow rate mL/h


Column height cm


Henry’s law constant atm-L/mmol


Overall gas-liquid mass transfer coefficient cm/h


Molar flow in the gas phase mmol/h


Partial pressure atm


Substrate uptake rate mmol/L h


Gas constant atm-L/mol K


Column internal cross-sectional area cm2


Reaction temperature K


Volume L


Gas phase concentration ratio to an inert gas εl Liquid porosity

Subindices or superindices:


carbon monoxide










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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. T. Klasson
    • 1
  • B. B. Elmore
    • 1
  • J. L. Vega
    • 1
  • M. D. Ackerson
    • 1
  • E. C. Clausen
    • 1
  • J. L. Gaddy
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of ArkansasFayetteville

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