ECOX2 – Enzymatic and chemocatalytic oxidation cascades in the gas phase (2) – Phenol from biogas

Subproject: Immobilization and optimization of methonotrophic bacteria, design and construction of a pilot plant consisting of bioreactor cascade, product separation and online mass spectrometry

Methane is the major component of biogas. Currently, biogas is mainly used as an energy source to produce heat and energy. The energetic use of biogas is efficient if the heat is used judiciously throughout the year – which is not the case for all biogas plants. Therefore, Fraunhofer IGB research focuses on possibilities for material use of bio-methane.

In the joint project ECOX basic procedures to convert gaseous substrates have been developed in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis LIKAT in Rostock and Martin Luther University in Halle and methane could be successfully converted to the basic chemicals methanol and formic acid by combining chemocatalytic and enzymatic processes.

The ECOX2 joint project aims at the development of a chemocatalytic-biotechnological process for the production of phenol from biogas. In a first step, benzene and the by-products ethene and naphthalene shall be chemocatalytically produced from biogas. In a second biotechnological step, benzene is transformed into phenol and the by-products into the valuables ethylene oxide and naphthol.

Objectives of the work packages at Fraunhofer IGB are

  • a fermentation technique for the production of phenol from benzene by means of methane oxidizing bacteria
  • production in a bioreactor-cascade of phenol, ethylene oxide and naphthol from (by-)products of chemocatalysis
  • a coupled chemocatalytical-biocatalytical process for the production of phenol, ethylene oxide, and naphthol from methane

Project information

Project title

ECOX2 – Enzymatic and chemocatalytic oxidation cascades in the gas phase (2) – Phenol from biogas


Project duration

July 2017 – June 2020


Project partners

  • Leibnitz-Institut für Katalyse, Rostock (Germany)
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB, Stuttgart (Germany) (Coordinator)
  • Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale) (Germany)




We would like to thank the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for funding the project "ECOX2", promotional reference 031B0345A.