Tulane University scientists have identified a novel bacterial strain, dubbed “TU-103,” that produces butanol directly from cellulose.
Researchers David Mullin’s lab in Tulane’s Department of Cell and Molecular Biology identified TU-103 in animal droppings, cultivated it and developed a method for using it to produce butanol. A patent is pending on the process.
Most important about this discovery is TU-103’s ability to produce butanol directly from cellulose.—David Mullin
Mullin said that TU-103 is the only known butanol-producing clostridial strain that can grow and produce butanol in the presence of oxygen, which kills other butanol-producing bacteria. Having to produce butanol in an anaerobic space increases the costs of production.
(Researchers from the Tokyo University of Agriculture earlier this year reported in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology on butanol production from crystalline cellulose by co-cultured Clostridium thermocellum and Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum N1-4. )
The work was funded in part through a grant the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded to the coalition of six Louisiana universities that comprise the Clean Power and Energy Research Consortium.