Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biochemical engineering: Waste not, want not

Date:
March 13, 2013
Source:
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
Summary:
A simple fermentation treatment can convert a by-product of biofuel production into a valuable chemical feedstock for a wide range of biomedical products.

A simple fermentation treatment can convert a by-product of biofuel production into a valuable chemical feedstock for a wide range of biomedical products.

Related Articles


Powered by sunlight, microalgae are tiny biofuel generators that soak up carbon dioxide to produce energy-rich lipids, which are showing promise as a potential source of clean energy. Maximizing lipid production is the focus of many research efforts, but the material remaining after lipid extraction has caught the attention of Md. Mahabubur Rahman Talukder and his co-workers at the A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences. Currently, this 'lipid-depleted biomass' is either burned for energy, or simply discarded as a waste product. Talukder and his team have developed a process that turns this material into a valuable chemical feedstock1.

The researchers have pioneered a two-step biochemical process that converts lipid-depleted biomass into lactic acid. This substance is in increasing demand as a feedstock for polylactic acid (PLA), a biopolymer with numerous medical applications, ranging from surgical sutures to orthopedic implants. The high cost of raw materials used in the manufacture of lactic acid currently limits PLA use. Thus, producing an alternative source from algal lipid-extraction waste is proving attractive. Generating two valuable products from the algae, specifically the microalgae Nannochloropsis salina, would spread the costs of microalgae production, making the biofuel more cost-competitive with conventional fuels.

To produce both lipid and lactic acid from N. salina, Talukder and his co-workers first subjected the microalgae to an acid hydrolysis pre-treatment step. This process broke down the organisms' polysaccharide-based cell walls into simple sugars, while releasing the lipid for extraction. The researchers also systematically examined different acid concentrations, reaction times and temperatures. They identified that treatment for 1 hour at 120 °C maximizes sugar and lipid production.

When Talukder and his co-workers extracted the lipid at this point, the lipid-depleted biomass, now rich in sugars, remained. They converted this material into lactic acid by fermentation. The team then added the bacterium Lactobacillus pentosus, which consumed the sugars over a 48-hour period, to generate the lactic acid.

The researchers found that, to maximize lactic acid production, they first had to remove metal ions from the mixture. Microalgae harvesting typically involves an iron chloride treatment, but the residual iron appeared to inhibit fermentation. "One of the next steps in our research will be to develop a chemical-free microalgae harvesting method so that fermentation will not be negatively affected," Talukder says. The researchers are also screening different bacterial strains for higher lactic acid productivity, and developing their current two-step process into a single-step operation.

The A*STAR-affiliated researchers contributing to this research are from the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Md. Mahabubur Rahman Talukder, Probir Das, Jin Chuan Wu. Microalgae (Nannochloropsis salina) biomass to lactic acid and lipid. Biochemical Engineering Journal, 2012; 68: 109 DOI: 10.1016/j.bej.2012.07.001

Cite This Page:

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). "Biochemical engineering: Waste not, want not." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313111705.htm>.
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). (2013, March 13). Biochemical engineering: Waste not, want not. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313111705.htm
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). "Biochemical engineering: Waste not, want not." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313111705.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

Late Winter Storm Wreaks Havoc Across Eastern US

AP (Mar. 5, 2015) — A strong cold front moving across the eastern U.S. has dumped deep snow in some regions, creating hazardous conditions from Kentucky to New England. (March 5) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Keurig Co-Founder Says Company Has A Waste Problem

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — Keurig co-founder John Sylvan told The Atlantic he doesn&apos;t even own a Keurig because they&apos;re too expensive and produce too much waste. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

Raw: Tourists Visit Rare Grey Whales in Mexico

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — Once nearly extinct, grey whales now migrate in their thousands to Mexico&apos;s Vizcaino reserve in Baja California, in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. Tourists flock to the reserve to see the whales, measuring up to 49 feet long. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

Raw: Injured Miners Treated After Blast

AP (Mar. 4, 2015) — An explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn Wednesday in war-torn eastern Ukraine, killing at least one miner, officials said. Graphic video of injured miners being treated in a Donetsk hospital. (March 4) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins