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Researchers scale-up hydrogen and ethanol production from engineered bacteria

Researchers in Mexico have used a genetically engineered Escherichia coli to scale-up the co-production of hydrogen (H2) and ethanol (EtOH) using hemicellulosic hydrolysates from wheat straw pretreated (WSP) as substrate from a 0.01 to 10 L process. A paper on their work is published in the journal Fuel.


Co-production of biofuels was performed through the redirection of carbon-flux to ethanol by deleting ldhA (D-lactate dehydrogenase) and frdD (fumarate reductase) genes in an H2-overproducer strain (E. coli WDH). Resulting strain, E. coli WDH-LF (ΔhycA ΔfrdD ΔldhA), increased up to 70% and 167% the H2 and EtOH production from glucose compared with the parenteral strain.

Using WSP as substrate, the yields of H2 and EtOH remained constant at all the evaluated scales.

—Lopez-Hidalgo et al.

10 L Bioreactor
  Max production Production rate Yield
H2 5,603.0 ± 233.5 mL H2/L 41.4 ± 4.0 mL H2/L/h 342.7 ± 14.3 mL H2/g TRS
EtOH 7.90 ± 0.28 g EtOH/L   0.48 ± 0.01 g EtOH/g TRS


  • Angel M. Lopez-Hidalgo, Victor E. Balderas Hernandez, Antonio De Leon-Rodriguez (2021) “Scale-up of hydrogen and ethanol co-production by an engineered Escherichia coli,” Fuel, Volume 300 doi: 10.1016/j.fuel.2021.121002.


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