Upconversion of Cellulosic Waste Into a Potential “Drop in Fuel” via Novel Catalyst Generated Using Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and a Consortium of Acidophilic Sulfidogens

Iryna P. Mikheenko, Jaime Gomez-bolivar, Mohamed L. Merroun, Lynne E. Macaskie, Surbhi Sharma, Marc Walker, Rachel A. Hand, Barry M. Grail, David Barrie Johnson, Rafael L. Orozco

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Biogas-energy is marginally profitable against the “parasitic” energy demands of processing biomass. Biogas involves microbial fermentation of feedstock hydrolyzate generated enzymatically or thermochemically. The latter also produces 5-hydroxymethyl furfural (5-HMF) which can be catalytically upgraded to 2, 5-dimethyl furan (DMF), a “drop in fuel.” An integrated process is proposed with side-stream upgrading into DMF to mitigate the “parasitic” energy demand. 5-HMF was upgraded using bacterially-supported Pd/Ru catalysts. Purpose-growth of bacteria adds additional process costs; Pd/Ru catalysts biofabricated using the sulfate-reducing bacterium (SRB) Desulfovibrio desulfuricans were compared to those generated from a waste consortium of acidophilic sulfidogens (CAS). Methyl tetrahydrofuran (MTHF) was used as the extraction-reaction solvent to compare the use of bio-metallic Pd/Ru catalysts to upgrade 5-HMF to DMF from starch and cellulose hydrolyzates. MTHF extracted up to 65% of the 5-HMF, delivering solutions, respectively, containing 8.8 and 2.2 g 5-HMF/L MTHF. Commercial 5% (wt/wt) Ru-carbon catalyst upgraded 5-HMF from pure solution but it was ineffective against the hydrolyzates. Both types of bacterial catalyst (5wt%Pd/3-5wt% Ru) achieved this, bio-Pd/Ru on the CAS delivering the highest conversion yields. The yield of 5-HMF from starch-cellulose thermal treatment to 2,5 DMF was 224 and 127 g DMF/kg extracted 5-HMF, respectively, for CAS and D. desulfuricans catalysts, which would provide additional energy of 2.1 and 1.2 kWh/kg extracted 5-HMF. The CAS comprised a mixed population with three patterns of metallic nanoparticle (NP) deposition. Types I and II showed cell surface-localization of the Pd/Ru while type III localized NPs throughout the cell surface and cytoplasm. No metallic patterning in the NPs was shown via elemental mapping using energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis but co-localization with sulfur was observed. Analysis of the cell surfaces of the bulk populations by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy confirmed the higher S content of the CAS bacteria as compared to D. desulfuricans and also the presence of Pd-S as well as Ru-S compounds and hence a mixed deposit of PdS, Pd(0), and Ru in the form of various +3, +4, and +6 oxidation states. The results are discussed in the context of recently-reported controlled palladium sulfide ensembles for an improved hydrogenation catalyst.
Original languageEnglish
Article number970
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberMAY
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2019


  • 5-HMF upgrade
  • 5-hydroxymethylfurfural upgrade
  • Desulfovibrio desulfuricans
  • PdRu catalyst
  • Waste sulfidogenic bacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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