Biological conversion of carbon dioxide and hydrogen into liquid fuels and industrial chemicals

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013 Jun;24(3):376-84. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2013.02.017. Epub 2013 Mar 16.


Non-photosynthetic routes for biological fixation of carbon dioxide into valuable industrial chemical precursors and fuels are moving from concept to reality. The development of 'electrofuel'-producing microorganisms leverages techniques in synthetic biology, genetic and metabolic engineering, as well as systems-level multi-omic analysis, directed evolution, and in silico modeling. Electrofuel processes are being developed for a range of microorganisms and energy sources (e.g. hydrogen, formate, electricity) to produce a variety of target molecules (e.g. alcohols, terpenes, alkenes). This review examines the current landscape of electrofuel projects with a focus on hydrogen-utilizing organisms covering the biochemistry of hydrogenases and carbonic anhydrases, kinetic and energetic analyses of the known carbon fixation pathways, and the state of genetic systems for current and prospective electrofuel-producing microorganisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioelectric Energy Sources*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Carbon Cycle* / genetics
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism*
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Engineering / methods*


  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Hydrogen