Deciphering the origins of the chemistry that supports life has frequently centered on determining prebiotically plausible paths that produce the molecules found in biology. What
has been less investigated is how the energy released from the breakdown of fuel sources is coupled to the persistence of the protocell. To gain better insight into how such coupled chemistry could have emerged prebiotically, we have investigated the prebiotic synthesis of the metallocofactors found in biology, namely iron-sulfur clusters, identified potential chemical fuel sources, and explored the growth and division of robust protocells. We find that the electrons released from the oxidation of the α-ketoacids found in extant metabolism can be nonenzymatically deposited in the ribodinucleotide NAD+, thereby initiating a prebiotic analogue of an electron transfer chain. Further studies on potential compositions of protocellular membranes and prebiotic growth-division processes indicate potential avenues towards a fuel-driven growth cycle.