Application of Biocatalysts for the Production of Methanol from Methane



Methane can be converted to methanol at atmospheric temperature and pressure by utilizing the isolated enzyme methane monooxygenase (MMO) or whole-cell methane-oxidizing bacteria as a biocatalyst. At present, methanol production using methane-oxidizing bacteria is more promising than using isolated MMO due to disadvantages such as the high cost of isolating MMO and the instability of MMO outside the bacterial cells. In this chapter, only methanol production using methane-oxidizing bacteria is discussed. To achieve extracellular accumulation of methanol when using methane-oxidizing bacteria, various reaction conditions must be optimized. First, the best inhibitor for methanol dehydrogenase should be determined. An inhibitor is required to prevent the dehydrogenation of methanol to formaldehyde by methanol dehydrogenase after the oxidation of methane to methanol by MMO. This inhibition is crucial, but results in a shortage of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH), which is required as a cellular energy source for the synthesis of various organic compounds required for the metabolism and the replication of the bacterial cells, as well as the hydroxylation of methane. Therefore, both a methanol oxidation inhibitor and the optimum electron donor to supply energy to the bacterial cells must be identified. Additionally, to use methane-oxidizing bacteria as a biocatalyst, the bacteria must be cultured before the methane conversion reaction is started. Therefore, an understanding of bacterial methane metabolism is crucial to developing practical methanol production processes using whole-cell biocatalysts. In this chapter, the methane metabolism of methane-oxidizing bacteria is also reviewed. Subsequently, the development of methanol production processes using biocatalysts is described.


Whole-cell methane-oxidizing bacteria Methane metabolism Culture and reaction condition 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tokyo Institute of TechnologyYokohamaJapan

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