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Electrobiocommodities: powering microbial production of fuels and commodity chemicals from carbon dioxide with electricity.

ABSTRACT

Electricity can be an energy source for microbially catalyzed production of fuels and other organic commodities from carbon dioxide. These electrobiocommodities (E-BCs) can be produced directly via electrode-to-microbe electron transfer or indirectly with electrochemically generated electron donors such as H2 or formate. Producing E-BCs may be a more efficient and environmentally sustainable strategy for converting solar energy to biocommodities than approaches that rely on biological photosynthesis. A diversity of microbial physiologies could potentially be adapted for E-BC production, but to date acetogenic microorganisms are the only organisms shown to covert electrically generated low potential electrons and carbon dioxide into multi-carbon organic products with high recovery of electrons in product. Substantial research and development will be required for E-BC commercialization.