BioGTL: A Potential Technique for Converting Methane to Methanol (Waste to Energy)

  • Aradhana Priyadarsini
  • Lepakshi BarboraEmail author
  • Vijayanand S. Moholkar
Part of the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability book series (ENENSU)


Methane, the potential fuel, is a major contributor to the global warming chaos due to its heat capturing ability and its increasing release from anthropogenic routes, such as oil and coal mining, as a waste. Owing to technical and economic constraints the methane is flared at the sites, thus preventing the marketing and causing wastage of a potential energy resource. In 2017, for 220 million barrels of oil produced per day, 140 billion m3 of natural gas was flared per year according to the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) report by the World Bank. This enormous amount gas that is wasted can be captured and converted to energy (liquid fuels) through existing chemical and emerging biological routes. Due to the prominent disadvantages associated with chemical route such as energy intensiveness, inefficiency in yield, high-cost, etc., biological route for methane-to-methanol conversion is favourable, which can be operated at ambient temperature and pressure conditions. The methanotrophs, among various groups of methane utilizers, play the key role in biological methane (gas) to methanol (liquid) conversion (BioGTL). Besides, Bio-GTL (biological gas to liquid) would prove to be an economically viable technology for capturing the methane released at underrated diffused sites operated by small companies in remote areas. An efficiency (moles of methanol produced per mole methane consumed) of 80% for BioGTL has been reported in 2014. However, the scale-up of this interesting and highly potential technology has been a challenge and hence, demands attention and appropriate R&D measures.


Methanotrophs Methane Biofuels Methanol BioGTL Gas fermentation 



Gas to Liquid


Biological Gas to Liquid


United States Environmental Protection Agency


Global Gas Flaring Reduction


Greenhouse Gas


Municipal Solid Waste


Natural Environment Research Council


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Global Warming Potential


Global Warming Potential over a Period of 100 Years


Rocky Mountain Institute


Compressed Natural Gas




Carbon Conversion Efficiency


Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria


Methane Monooxygenase


Particulate Methane Monooxygenase


Soluble Methane Monooxygenase


Compressed Natural Gas


Liquefied Natural Gas


Dimethyl Ether


Ammonia Monooxygenase


Ribulose Monophosphate


Intracytoplasmic Membrane




Membrane Reactor


Methane Dehydrogenase


Research and Development


  1. Adebajo MO, Frost RL (2012) Recent advances in catalytic/biocatalytic conversion of greenhouse methane and carbon dioxide to methanol and other oxygenates. In: Greenhouse gases-capturing, utilization and reduction. InTechGoogle Scholar
  2. Bjorck CE, Dobson PD, Pandhal J (2018) Biotechnological conversion of methane to methanol: evaluation of progress and potential. AIMS Bioeng 5(1):1–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dedysh SN, Dunfield PF (2011) Facultative and obligate methanotrophs: how to identify and differentiate them. In: Methods in enzymology, vol 495. Academic Press, pp 31–44Google Scholar
  4. Dong T, Fei Q, Genelot M, Smith H, Laurens LM, Watson MJ, Pienkos PT (2017) A novel integrated biorefinery process for diesel fuel blendstock production using lipids from the methanotroph, Methylomicrobium buryatense. Energy Convers Manage 140:62–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drake HL, Küsel K, Matthies C (2006) Acetogenic prokaryotes. Prokaryotes: Vol 2: Ecophysiol Biochem 354–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duan C, Luo M, Xing X (2011) High-rate conversion of methane to methanol by Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b. Biores Technol 102(15):7349–7353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dworkin M, Foster JW (1956) Studies on Pseudomonas methanica (Söhngen) nov. comb. J Bacteriol 72(5):646Google Scholar
  8. Eriksen H, Strand K, Jørgensen L, Statoil ASA (2009) Method of fermentation. U.S. Patent 7,579,163Google Scholar
  9. Fei Q, Guarnieri MT, Tao L, Laurens LM, Dowe N, Pienkos PT (2014) Bioconversion of natural gas to liquid fuel: opportunities and challenges. Biotechnol Adv 32(3):596–614CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Foster NR (1985) Direct catalytic oxidation of methane to methanol—a review. Appl Catal 19(1):1–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ge X, Yang L, Sheets JP, Yu Z, Li Y (2014) Biological conversion of methane to liquid fuels: status and opportunities. Biotechnol Adv 32(8):1460–1475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Global Methane Initiative (2010) Global methane emissions and mitigation opportunities. GMI (Online). Available: (17 Aug 2011)
  13. Gvakharia A, Kort EA, Brandt A, Peischl J, Ryerson TB, Schwarz JP, Smith ML, Sweeney C (2017) Methane, black carbon, and ethane emissions from natural gas flares in the Bakken Shale, North Dakota. Environ Sci Technol 51(9):5317–5325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Han B, Su T, Wu H, Gou Z, Xing XH, Jiang H, Chen Y, Li X, Murrell JC (2009) Paraffin oil as a “methane vector” for rapid and high cell density cultivation of Methylosinus trichosporium OB3b. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 83(4):669–677CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hanson RS, Hanson TE (1996) Methanotrophic bacteria. Microbiol Rev 60(2):439–471Google Scholar
  16. Höök M, Fantazzini D, Angelantoni A, Snowden S (2014) Hydrocarbon liquefaction: viability as a peak oil mitigation strategy. Philos Trans R Soc A 372(2006):20120319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hwang IY, Lee SH, Choi YS, Park SJ, Na JG, Chang IS, Kim C, Kim HC, Kim YH, Lee JW, Lee EY (2014) Biocatalytic conversion of methane to methanol as a key step for development of methane-based biorefineries. J Microbiol Biotechnol 24(12):1597–1605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2015) Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change, vol 3. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  19. Labrador D (2018) This little think-tank goes to market. Solutions Journal Spring 2018, vol 11, no. 1 (Published by Rocky Mountain Institute)Google Scholar
  20. Le Fevre C (2017) Methane Emissions: from blind spot to spotlight. Oxford Institute for Energy StudiesGoogle Scholar
  21. Leadbetter ER, Foster JW (1958) Studies on some methane-utilizing bacteria. Arch Mikrobiol 30(1):91–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Muehlhofer M, Strassner T, Herrmann WA (2002) New catalyst systems for the catalytic conversion of methane into methanol. Angew Chem Int Ed 41(10):1745–1747CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pen N, Soussan L, Belleville MP, Sanchez J, Charmette C, Paolucci-Jeanjean D (2014) An innovative membrane bioreactor for methane biohydroxylation. Biores Technol 174:42–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Saunois M, Bousquet P, Poulter B, Peregon A, Ciais P, Canadell JG, Dlugokencky EJ, Etiope G, Bastviken D, Houweling S, Janssens-Maenhout G (2016) The global methane budget 2000–2012. Earth Syst Sci Data 8(2):697–751 (Online)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sheets JP, Ge X, Li YF, Yu Z, Li Y (2016) Biological conversion of biogas to methanol using methanotrophs isolated from solid-state anaerobic digestate. Biores Technol 201:50–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Taher E, Chandran K (2013) High-rate, high-yield production of methanol by ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. Environ Sci Technol 47(7):3167–3173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Wogan T (2017) Methane to methanol catalyst could end gas flaring. Chemistry World 2018. Published online by The Royal Society of ChemistryGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aradhana Priyadarsini
    • 1
  • Lepakshi Barbora
    • 1
    Email author
  • Vijayanand S. Moholkar
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for EnergyIndian Institute of Technology GuwahatiGuwahatiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology GuwahatiGuwahatiIndia

Personalised recommendations