Conversion of natural gas to fuels using methanotrophic bacteria
The Lidstrom group leads an ARPA-E funded consortium focused on generating lipid- derived diesel from natural gas using methane-oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs) as biocatalysts. Methanotrophic bacteria house the methane oxidation system in a complex internal membrane system (ICMs), and so are among a small subset of bacteria that naturally convert their carbon substrate into lipids at high levels. They are the only bacteria that do this with methane as the substrate. The envisioned Methane-To-Liquid Fuels process would involve conversion of the methane in natural gas to lipids by the methanotrophic bacteria, subsequent extraction of lipids to generate diesel precursors, and catalytic conversion of the diesel precursors to diesel. In this project, UW is responsible for a set of strain modifications to increase productivity and efficiency, a group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden CO is responsible for optimizing lipid extraction, LanzaTech is responsible for optimizing the fermentation process and scale-up, and Johnson Matthey is responsible for the catalysis development and optimization. NREL with work with the two companies on a techno-economic assessment model.