Recently our research group observed the production of butanol and propanol (both higher energy biofuels) by thermophilic anaerobes during growth on glucose. These results are completely novel and caught us by great surprise because until now, the only way to produce butanol has been through the use of Clostridium species. Some of the Thermoanaerobacter and Caldanaerobacter strains we have been working with exhibit growth on complex lignocellulosic substrates, during which, in the presence of butyrate and propionate, they reduce the acids to their corresponding alcohols, in this case butanol and propanol. This is a real game changer in the production of high energy carriers in the field of biofuel production.
To conclude, our work has added to the knowledge of directing end products towards certain ethanol and hydrogen producing pathways . One of our strains (Thermoanaerobacterium AK17; Almarsdottir et al, 2012) has been genetically modified to prevent lactate and acetate formation, making the strain homoethanolgenic. Furthermore, our team has observed completely new microbial production routes of high value compounds (1,2-propanediol, BCOH, higher alcohols (propanol, butanol) within the genera of Thermoanaerobacter, Caldanareobacter, and Caldicellulosiruptor.