281047 Engineering Metabolic Modules for Electrofuels Production in Proteobacteria
Electrofuels as a concept seeks to produce liquid transportation fuels from carbon dioxide and renewable electricity. Ginkgo Bioworks's approach to electrofuels is to use formic acid salts as a vector of electricial energy for biology-based fuels production. Unlike other vectors such as hydrogen, formate is water-soluble and easy to handle safely, which simplifies process scale up. We have designed and are building a set of metabolic modules aimed at (i) converting the electrons carried by formate into central metabolic intermediates such as NAD(P)H, (ii) converting the carbon carried by formate into central metabolic intermediates such as pyruvate, and (iii) producing liquid, water-immiscible hydrocarbons from pyruvate. Together these modules enable the biosynthesis of liquid fuels from formate salts.
Recently we have also begun to implement these modules in alternate host organisms (alphaproteobacteria instead of E. coli). These hosts offer a number of potential advantages over E. coli but require the fabrication and characterization of synthetic biology "parts" including promoters, plasmid replication and selection elements, etc. that will also be discussed.