Belfort Group

Biomolecular Separations Research Group
Howard P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
and Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180, USA

Cell-Free Development of Biofuels

Cell-free production of isobutanol from 2-keto isovaleric acid, a naturally occurring cellular intermediate on the valine pathway, is our goal. Two immobilized enzymes (keto acid decarboxylase, KdcA, and alcohol dehydrogenase, ADH) are used to convert the acid to the aldehyde and then to the alcohol.

Optimization of the immobilization onto solid substrates is required and being pursued experimentally and with molecular simulations to maximize alcohol production and minimize costs. Supply of NADH remains a challenge.

Also, recovery of the isobutanol will be optimized. We collaborate with Cynthia Collins, RPI, and Sanat Kumar, Columbia University, on this project.