Production and Upgrading of 2,3-Butanediol from Biomass
Acronym: PUBB
Project coordinator
- Dr. Ulf Pruesse – Johann Heinrich von Thunen Institute - Germany
Project leaders
- Prof. Wlodzimierz Grajek – Pozan University of Life Sciences - Poland
- Dr. Antonia Rojas – Biopolis S.L. – Spain
- Prof. Victoria Santos – Complutense University of Madrid
- Dr. Harald Häger – Evonik Degussa GmbH – Germany
- Dr. Heinz-Joachim Belt – Solvay S.A. – Belgium
- Dr. Wolfgang Wach – Südzucker AG – Germany
- Prof. Siegmund Lang – Technical University Braunschweig – Germany
- Prof. Marianna Turkiewicz – Technical University of Lodz – Poland
- Dr. Bodo Saake – Johann Heinrich von Thunen-Insitute - Germany

The project objective is the development of an efficient fermentation process to produce the platform chemical 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD) from various low-cost renewable feedstocks and its further upgrading.

2,3-butanediol is a valuable chemical useful as antifreeze agent and as raw materials for the production of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, plasticizers, fragrances, moistening agents etc. It can be further converted to 1,3-butadiene (1,3-BD), a multi million ton bulk chemical, mainly used for the production of synthetic rubber, several polyamides and other polymers as well as to methyl ethyl ketone useful as solvent or fuel additive.

2,3-BD can be produced from sugars or glycerol by different bacteria, e.g. K. oxytoca or K. pneumoniae. Although the biosynthesis of 2,3-BD is well understood, its fermentative production is not carried out on commercial scale, yet, due to low process economics. The project aspires to establish a commercially attractive fermentation process by overcoming the current drawbacks such as the low productivity and inefficient product isolation.

More specifically, different low-cost biomasses (optimized hydrolysates from wood, sugar beets or peels, raw glycerol) shall serve as substrates. New 2,3-BD producing microorganisms will be screened and optimized by mutagenesis and genetic/metabolic engineering with regard to productivity and tolerance for high substrate/product concentrations. Optimum fermentation conditions will be evaluated in lab-scale for different substrates and strains considering both free and immobilised cells. Promising processes will be further scaled-up. Novel processes for the isolation/purification of 2,3-BD will be developed as well as for the conversion of 2,3-BD to 1,3-BD.

In parallel to the whole project, process economics and life-cycle assessment will be carefully analyzed for the whole value chain and the main cost drivers will be identified in order to enable the development of the most cost-efficient and sustainable overall process.