Recent advances and future prospects for increased butanol production by acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation

Yukihiro Tashiro, Tsuyoshi Yoshida, Takuya Noguchi, Kenji Sonomoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Presently, several researchers are increasingly focusing on producing butanol as the next-generation fuel by acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) fermentation. Butanol has many superior characteristics compared to other biofuels, such as ethanol. However, its production by ABE fermentation faces the challenges of low productivity and yield because of product inhibition and heterofermentation, respectively, and thereby, high costs. Until date, molecular biological techniques and fermentation engineering methods have been applied for high butanol production. Although glucose remains the substrate of choice since traditional research, it is now necessary to substitute glucose derived from edible starch to other substrates from low-cost feedstock, such as agricultural residue. In addition, ABE-producing clostridia cannot directly produce butanol from lignocelluloses. Therefore, recent research is focusing on pretreatment and enzymatic saccharification of the complex molecules derived from agricultural residue for use as feedstock in butanol production. This article reviews traditional research, including the metabolism patterns and characteristics of ABE-producing clostridia. Furthermore, this article describes developments in ABE fermentation with respect to the establishment of highly efficient butanol production processes, such as batch, fed-batch, and continuous cultures, with the introduction of butanol removal, as well as butanol production from lignocellulosic biomasses or alternative substrates to sugars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Number of pages14
JournalEngineering in Life Sciences
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Bioengineering


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