Milling byproducts are an economically viable substrate for butanol production using clostridial ABE fermentation

Nils Thieme, Johanna C. Panitz, Claudia Held, Birgit Lewandowski, Wolfgang H. Schwarz, Wolfgang Liebl, Vladimir Zverlov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Butanol is a platform chemical that is utilized in a wide range of industrial products and is considered a suitable replacement or additive to liquid fuels. So far, it is mainly produced through petrochemical routes. Alternative production routes, for example through biorefinery, are under investigation but are currently not at a market competitive level. Possible alternatives, such as acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation by solventogenic clostridia are not market-ready to this day either, because of their low butanol titer and the high costs of feedstocks. Here, we analyzed wheat middlings and wheat red dog, two wheat milling byproducts available in large quantities, as substrates for clostridial ABE fermentation. We could identify ten strains that exhibited good butanol yields on wheat red dog. Two of the best ABE producing strains, Clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 and Clostridium diolis DSM 15410, were used to optimize a laboratory-scale fermentation process. In addition, enzymatic pretreatment of both milling byproducts significantly enhanced ABE production rates of the strains C. beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 and C. diolis DSM 15410. Finally, a profitability analysis was performed for small- to mid-scale ABE fermentation plants that utilize enzymatically pretreated wheat red dog as substrate. The estimations show that such a plant could be commercially successful. Key points • Wheat milling byproducts are suitable substrates for clostridial ABE fermentation. • Enzymatic pretreatment of wheat red dog and middlings increases ABE yield. • ABE fermentation plants using wheat red dog as substrate are economically viable. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8679-8689
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number20
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • ABE fermentation
  • Butanol
  • Clostridia
  • Profitability analysis
  • Wheat milling byproducts


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