Biorefineries pp 411-425 | Cite as

Microbial Hydrocarbon Formation from Biomass

  • Adrie J. J. StraathofEmail author
  • Maria C. Cuellar
Part of the Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology book series (ABE, volume 166)


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.


Yields Product recovery Gaseous products Isoprenoids 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiotechnologyDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands

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