'New tailor-made biopolymers produced from lignocellulosic sugars waste for highly demanding fire-resistant applications'

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production methodology from food waste

Food companies generate large amount of by-products and residues that must be managed before going to landfill or to sewage plant. These products involve in most cases a cost for the company and a negative image due to the impact they may cause on the environment.
However, most of these residues are rich in interesting substances that can be extracted or are suitable to be used as culture medium (raw material) in biotechnology processes (mainly fermentations) that result in added value products.
It is widely known that the European Commission supports actions aligned with the bioeconomy regional objectives. Although, biological processes that allow raw material to be more time in the food chain are well regarded, research in this field is necessary.
A Spanish research centre with a large experience in biotechnology and fermentation processes, has a bio-production pilot plant in its facilities that permits to develop new methodologies and to scale up the process to industrial level. The centre has developed a biotechnology method to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from wastewater of juice processing industry. The development has been carried out in the framework of a 7th framework programme funded project.
After characterizing juice wastewater, the group of scientist identified and selected the microorganisms to produce polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) polymer. Later on they characterized the growth conditions microorganisms needed to use the wastewater as culture medium.
Once the conditions were defined, the polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) bio-production was studied. The scientist analyzed how fermentation works at laboratory and pilot scale. Temperature, nutrient flow and time were adjusted in order to get the better efficiency.
The result was a well established method that permits to obtain as much polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) as possible by a processing juice wastewater. The method is flexible and can be adapted to different conditions, wastewater characteristics and concentrations.
The main innovation is that by taking advantage of wastewater that is a cheap raw material, is possible to obtain a polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) polymer that can be used in the same industry to bottle up juice. Therefore, the method permits to close the loop and maintain the original raw material longer in the food chain, which is the basis of the circular economy.
Concerning the environmental impact, it might be reduced due to the revalorization of waste and its reuse in the same food chain. Moreover, since polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a biodegradable plastic material, it can be naturally degraded with low impact on the environment.
Food companies interested in taking advantage of their by-products or waste are sought to establish commercial agreements with technical assistance. The research centre offers its expertise and technology to be adapted to specific requirements (since every industry has different waste water and by-products composition).
For those sectors with high particularities,<a href="http://www.viporak.com">replika órák</a> research cooperation agreement could be established as well.

» Reference: TOES20160624001/SPAIN

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This project has received funding from the European Unionís Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration