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Continuous feeding strategy for polyhydroxyalkanoate production from solid waste animal fat at laboratory‐ and pilot‐scale

Gutschmann, Björn; Maldonado Simões, Matilde; Schiewe, Thomas; Schröter, Edith S.; Münzberg, Marvin; Neubauer, Peter; Bockisch, Anika; Riedel, Sebastian L.

FG Bioverfahrenstechnik

Bioconversion of waste animal fat (WAF) to polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) is an approach to lower the production costs of these plastic alternatives. However, the solid nature of WAF requires a tailor-made process development. In this study, a double-jacket feeding system was built to thermally liquefy the WAF to employ a continuous feeding strategy. During laboratory-scale cultivations with Ralstonia eutropha Re2058/pCB113, 70% more PHA (45 gPHA L−1) and a 75% higher space–time yield (0.63 gPHA L−1 h−1) were achieved compared to previously reported fermentations with solid WAF. During the development process, growth and PHA formation were monitored in real-time by in-line photon density wave spectroscopy. The process robustness was further evaluated during scale-down fermentations employing an oscillating aeration, which did not alter the PHA yield although cells encountered periods of oxygen limitation. Flow cytometry with propidium iodide staining showed that more than two-thirds of the cells were viable at the end of the cultivation and viability was even little higher in the scale-down cultivations. Application of this feeding system at 150-L pilot-scale cultivation yielded in 31.5 gPHA L−1, which is a promising result for the further scale-up to industrial scale.